Walter Frederick Osborne (1859-1903)
In the Life Class, 1894
Graphite on paper, 17.6 x 25cm
Signed, lower right: Walter Osborne 19/3/94
Dublin born Osborne was the son of animal painter, William Osborne. He studied at the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin and at the Academie Royale in Antwerp from 1881 to 1883. Like many other Irish artists he spent time painting in Brittany. On his return to Ireland, Osborne quickly became one of the country’s most highly regarded young artists, exhibiting at the RHA and in London. He taught at the RHA schools from the early 1890s until his early death and was highly esteemed by his students. Osborne is best known for his landscapes and genre pictures, but he regularly painted and sketched family members and friends. He accepted many portrait commissions to boost his earnings, and regularly painted and sketched family members and friends.
This spontaneous sketch, typical of Osborne’s small observational studies, depicts a man sketching from the life model. An inscription indicates that Osborne gave it to his friend the art historian and critic, Walter Armstrong (1850-1918), who became Director of the National Gallery of Ireland in 1892.
The NGI holds a wide-ranging collection of Osborne’s work in all media, spanning his career, and this drawing further enhances and strengthens the collection. The figure is very similar to that of Armstrong, noted in informal sketches made by Osborne when they were on a trip to Spain in December 1895. The sketch has been acquired in memory of the former director, Raymond Keaveney (NGI Director, 1988-2012).