Bea Orpen

Painted picture of a view from a garden located in Terenure, Dublin. Tall trees to the left and yellow green fields

Bea Orpen - Terenure Garden

Bea Orpen (1913-1980) was born in Dublin, studying at the Metropolitan School of Art there, and went on to be both a talented landscape and portrait painter, as well as a successful educator. The niece of fellow painter Sir William Orpen, she also attended the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA), the Slade School of Fine Art, the School of Typography and the London County Council Central School of Arts and Crafts. During her studies she was presented with first prize for drawing (1933), painting from life (1934) and decorative composition (1936), whilst also gaining a number of commercial commissions. 

Bea Orpen was mainly a landscape painter, painting mostly in gouache and watercolour and very occasionally oil. In an Irish Times obituary, James White described her as a ‘unique artist in the area of small mood studies of landscapes around the sea and pastureland of our eastern countries’. However, Bea was also frequently drawn to the west coast and some of her finest work comes from the counties Donegal (where her parents had a summer house), Mayo, Galway, Limerick and Kerry. For over 20 years she also painted while on working holidays with her husband in France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. She exhibited regularly with both the RHA and the Watercolour Society of Ireland, as well as contributing work to the Oireachtas, the Irish Exhibition of Living Art and the Exhibition of Modern Irish Art, among others.

Information about Bea Orpen's painting Terenure Garden

Information about Bea Orpen's painting Terenure Garden

The artist, along with her husband Chalmers (‘Terry’) Trench,  established the Drogheda Municipal Art Collection which is now part of the permanent collections of the Highlanes Gallery. She taught at several schools, including Drogheda Technical School, Drogheda Grammar School and St. Peter’s National School, Drogheda. She was elected an honorary member of the RHA in 1980 and two retrospectives have been held of her work at the Gorry Gallery in Dublin (1981) and the Droichead Arts Centre in Drogheda (1995). In the late 1970s, she also served as a member of the governing authority of the National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin (the forerunner of Dublin City University). Dublin City University named a building after Orpen in her honour. This artwork entitled 'Terenure Garden' was presented to DCU in 1995 by her husband, Terry Trench.