William Orpen’s portrait of working-class girl who became a countess

Painting of an Edwardian lady by the Anglo-Irish artist is expected to sell for up to €55,000

A portrait of an Edwardian lady by the Stillorgan, Co Dublin-born, Anglo-Irish artist Sir William Orpen is expected to sell for up to £40,000 (€55,000) when it goes under the hammer on Tuesday (March 10th) in England. The Portrait of Gertrude, Countess of Dudley, at auctioneers Sworders of Stansted Mountfichet in Essex, is estimated at £30,000- £40,000 (€41,000- €55,000). The auction house said the painting, "by Ireland's pre-eminent portrait painter of the era", and which is on the market for the first time, depicts Gertie Millar, a "working-class girl from Yorkshire" who grew up to be one of most photographed women of the Edwardian era and married the Earl of Dudley, William Humble Ward (1867-1932), who inherited a family mining and ironworks. He had been Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1902-05 before becoming Governor General of Australia from 1908-11. The Earl met Orpen during a house party at Screeb House, Camus, Co Galway, and their friendship is believed to have led to the commissioning of this portrait in the 1920s.