'In a Dublin park, light and shade'

Walter Frederick Osborne, ‘In a Dublin park, light and shade’, c.1895

Walter Frederick Osborne (Dublin 1859 - 1903 Dublin)
In a Dublin park, light and shade, c.1895

Oil on canvas
Purchased, 1944
NGI 1121

‘She had hard work to keep the house together and to see that the two young children who had been left in her charge went to school regularly and got their meals regularly. It was hard work – a hard life …’
Eveline, p.45*

This painting was one of the few pictures Osborne sold outright when it was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1895. Although the style of painting shows that Osborne had absorbed the Impressionists’ concern for capturing the effects of light and shade, unusually, this painting also shows his interest in aspects other than the purely visual.  His treatment of the figures underlines his sympathy for their plight. The frieze-like composition suggests that the figures may represent an allegory of life from birth to death. The two children are picked out in bright sunlight pointing perhaps to hope for the future.


*Please note: page numbers cited in the labels refer to The O’Brien Press 2012 edition of Dubliners by James Joyce, published to coincide with the ‘One City, One Book’ festival 2012. This edition is for sale in the NGI Shop.

Find out more about the Dublin: One City, One Book festival, an initiative of Dublin City Public Libraries