Walter Frederick Osborne (1859-1903)


Walter Osborne

After winning the Royal Dublin Society Taylor Scholarship in 1881 and 1882, Osborne travelled abroad and trained at the Antwerp Academy. He sojourned in Brittany before returning to Dublin, where he taught at the Royal Hibernian Academy schools from the early 1890s. He exhibited annually at the RHA and the Royal Academy, London (1886–1903). He continued to travel and made painting trips to the south of England and Spain.

Osborne collected many photographs, including images of the local people in northern France and the south of England, which he used as both source material and as inspiration for his oil paintings. His oil painting Near St Patrick’s Close (c.1887, NGI. 836) was based on a photograph of a view of St Patrick’s Cathedral, while a photograph of High Street, Rye was the source for his oil painting Cherry Ripe (1889, Ulster Museum, Belfast).

Osborne lived with his family, near St Stephen's Green, Dublin. In 1903, in a collection of four letters to his brother Charles, he conveyed the deteriorating condition of their sick mother. ‘Since I last wrote a grave complication has recurred in mother’s illness … You know later you might regret you did not see her when her mind was quite clear’. As it transpired, their mother recovered from her illness, and these letters were among the last words Osborne himself would put to paper before his own premature death from pneumonia in April 1903.


A selection of items from the collection:

Photograph of a view of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, [c.1886]
Presented by Sophia Mallin, 1987

Photograph of High Street, Rye, [c.1890]
Presented by Sophia Mallin, 1987

Photograph of a fisherman and his family, Rye, [c.1890] (see above)
Presented by Sophia Mallin, 1987

Letter from Walter Osborne to his brother, Canon Charles E. Osborne, 13 March 1903

Letter from Walter Osborne to his brother, Canon Charles E. Osborne, [n.d.]