Major Sir William Orpen, one of the most prestigious Irish artists ever, was born in 1878 in Stillorgan and is famed for his self-portraits and his work as a war artist during World War I and is forever honoured and remembered with specially-commissioned bronze sculpture standing outside Talbot Hotel Stillorgan. It was inaugurated on a weekend of commemorative events and unveiled by Rolling Stones star Ronnie Wood, an avid collector and appreciator of Orpen’s work, officially welcoming the creation to the South Dublin town.
It was Orpen himself who predicted this honorary sculpture. One of the artist’s famous comical sketches, entitled ‘A Dream’, sees him standing atop a plinth with crowds of people below grasping to touch the man himself. The sketch bears the caption “I imagine that Dublin has seen fit to honour me”; a dream that will indeed come true in less than a week’s time.
Irish sculptor Rowan Gillespie is the man behind such a striking piece of work. Famous worldwide for his work with bronze casting, Gillespie took inspiration for the bust of the impressive, 11-foot-tall sculpture from one of Orpen’s famous self-portraits. The smaller, but incredibly detailed bronze sculptures that make up the base of the piece were also inspired by four other notable works by the Dublin artist, including the 'Dream' sketch that influenced the original thought process behind the entire project. Gillespie, whose large and renowned body of work includes the commemorative ‘Famine’ installation at Custom House Quay in Dublin, presented the special inaugurating event.