Walter Osborne (Irish, 1859–1903), At the Breakfast Table, 1894

2019 029 V0001Walter Osborne (Irish, 1859–1903), At the Breakfast Table, 1894, oil on canvas 20 x 24 inches (canvas). The Donald and Marilyn Keough Foundation Fund, 2019.029

Osborne was born in Dublin and trained at the Royal Hibernian Academy. He traveled to Brittany where his art became more impressionistic. He was elected to the Royal Hibernian Academy and continued his career in England focusing on portraiture. In 1892, however, his sister died in childbirth, and the orphaned child named Violet, pictured here, was sent to his aging parents’ home in Dublin to be raised. Osborne returned from England to support his family.

The painting documents a quiet moment in the intimacy of their home. In the foreground is a George II mahogany side chair pushed against the table covered in a crisp, white cloth and set with a rustic pitcher of flowers, a plate of bread, a simple bowl, and a squat, silver teapot gleaming in the background. Dark, heavy curtains part to let the morning light filter through lace sheers. The scene is devoid of any of the Victorian frivolity popular at the time and instead taps into the stoicism of a solidly Protestant, middle-class household.

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