Walter Osborne

1859-1903 [Walter Frederick Osborne]; b. 18 June 1859, 5 Castlewood Ave., Rathgar, Dublin; ed. Rathmines School and RHA; Taylor Schol., 1881, 1882; studied under Verlat at Antwerp; RHA 1886; d. pneumonia, at home (where he was born) d. 24 April 1903; bur. at Mount St. Jerome Cemetery, Dublin. DIB


Julian Campbell, Walter Osborne in the West of Ireland (Dublin: James Adams 2005), 128pp. See also Thomas Bodkin, Four Irish landscape painters: George Barret, James A. O’Connor, Walter F. Osborne, Nathaniel Hone [1920], with an introduction by Julian Campbell [2nd edn.; facs] (Dublin: IAP 1987).


Stanislaus Joyce: I have a habit of roaming in to the Gallery or into the Museum to look at the Forbes Collection ... I even flattered myself on picking out five Corots by their style, and, knowing there was a spurious Corot in the collection, by picking it out too, and on having picked out two pictures by J[ohn] B. Yeats by the Irish eyes on their faces. In the National Gallery I saw two or three pictures by a man named Wlater Osborne which I liked very much. They are pictures of children (girls) but they are obviously Dublin. One is named “The Doll’s School”, another “The Lustre Jug”. The painter (who died in 1903) seemed to me to have real talent, intellect, and a truly though not great artistic temper. I have since seem him respectfully mentioned by a critic who slated Jack B. Yeats and Russell. (Though I like the first.) This man and Old [J. B.] Yeats have done some good things for Dublin, to redeemm it. There is a portrait of a girl in a dark green dress, with her hands cupped behind her head, leaning back in a chair and it appears to me as good as any in the collection. I am almost sure it is by Old Yeats. Osborne’s style is not as careful it has [116] that raw unfinished realism which is likely to become the characteristic of Irish art.’ (Letter to James Joyce, 10 Oct. 1905; in Richard Ellmann, ed., Letters of James Joyce, Vol. 2, 1996, pp.116-17.)


Beneath St Jacques, Antwerp”, a Dutch scene, set a record for the artist by selling for £345,000 at an Adam’s Auction at the end of 1997. (See The Irish Times, 15 Aug. 2009, p.17.) The same article relates that “Spoilt Pets” sold for a record £210,000 at a Sotheby’s sale of Irish art in London in June 1995.

Rags, Bones and Bottles” by Orpen, a picture of the Dublin poor, was sold by auction at Sotheby’s in May 2007 - no price disclosed (See The Irish Times, 10 May 2007).

Tea in the Garden” (1902), set in the garden of neighbours at Crawford, Castlewood Ave., Rathmines; bought from the estate, unfinished [Lane Gift to Municipal Gallery].

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