About the Artists Database

The NIVAL Artists Database has been compiled in order to improve public access to the Library's extensive information files on 20th century and contemporary Irish artists.  These files contain exhibition catalogues, newspaper cuttings and ephemera on over 3,500 artists born or based in Ireland.

The Artists Database is a reference resource providing basic biographical and work details on each artist abstracted from the information contained in the hard copy files held in the Library.  It is important to realise that the records are a summary of the information held in each artist's file.  A visit to NIVAL is recommended to researchers seeking a comprehensive view of the actual files.

Although we have endeavoured to ensure the information is correct, it is inevitable, given the diverse sources of information, that some inaccuracies may occur.  Changes and updates are made on an ongoing basis and the Library welcomes suggestions, criticism, and donations of relevant material.

Filter Artists:

  • Reference Code:IE/NIVAL AR/1858
  • First Name: Bea
  • Last Name: Orpen
  • Gender: Female
  • Date of Birth: 1913
  • Date of Death: 1980
  • Place of Birth: Dublin
  • Nationality: Irish
  • Area Of Practice:
    • Painting
    • Graphic Design
  • Artwork Type Technique:
    • Watercolour
    • Oil Painting
    • Pastel
  • Abstract/Figurative: Abstract
  • Genre:
    • Landscape / Portrait
  • Represented By: Not Specified
  • Public Art: No
  • Size: 20+
  • Manuscript Material: No
  • Physical Location: Artist Files Collection
  • Public Collection:
    • Waterford Municipal Art Collection.
    • Other

other Info Source:

Snoddy's Dictionary of Irish Artists, 20th Century (1996)


1933 RHA First Prize for Life Drawing
1934 RHA First Prize for Painting from life
1936 First Prize in decorative composition


National Gallery of Ireland & Douglas Hyde Gallery, Trinity College, Dublin, Irish Women Artists, Dublin, 1987


1935 RHA Life Schools, Painting. (Under Dermot O'Brien, Seán O'Sullivan & Maurice McGonigal)
1935 Miss Lilian Davidson's Studio, Painting.
1939 Slade School of Art, London, Diploma in Design.
1939 London County Council Central School of Arts and Crafts, Textile and Commercial Design.

Conservation Required

remove staples, paper clips etc photocopy newspaper cuttings catalogues to be scanned


Orpen was a landscape and portrait painter. She studied at the Metropolitan School of Art, Dublin before becoming an Art Teacher. She taught at several schools, including Drogheda Technical School, Drogheda Grammar School and St. Peter's National School, Drogheda. The niece of Sir William Orpen, she played an instrumental role in establishing Drogheda Municipal Gallery of Art. She was also a member of several important committees. They included The National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin from 1975-1978, The Stamp Design Advisory Committee 1977, The Irish Countrywomen's Association from 1974-1976 and the Director of the Arts Council courses for National Teachers, An Griánan from 1959-1978. Orpen was made an honorary member of the RHA in 1980. File contains newspaper clippings, catalogues and images of the artist's work.