Louis le Brocquy (1916-2012)

Life ]
1916- [orth. err. Le Brocquy]; b. 10 Nov., Dublin, 5 Sion Rd., Dublin; son of Albert Le Brocquy, a second-generation oil-company proprietor of Belgian descent, his father having been a chemical engineer and first Belgian consul in Ireland with manufacturing and business premisses at Harold’s Cross, the son of an ex-cavalry officer in the Belgian Army who came to Ireland to mount the Belgian cavalry and married a Kilkenny woman [?Murphy]; his mother was Sybil [née Staunton], a writer on Jonathan Swift; ed. Miss Sweeney’s school at Mount Temple (where Lolly Yeats taught art on Saturdays), and St. Gerard’s School, Bray; self-trained painter; eloped with and m. Jean Stoney, in London, Dec. 1938, on advice of his mother Sybil; a dg., Sèyre born shortly after; introduced to Ralph Cusack, moving into his cottage at Cap Martin, May 1939; visited Venice alone to see Biennale paintings; left Menton in Sept. 1939; settled at 15 Fitzwilliam St., Dublin; painted Girl in White (the actress Kathleen Ryan - who was later disfigured in an accident), RHA 1941; painted Belfast Refugees, 1941; painted pituitary glands in operation for Dr. Adam McConnell; 1940; separated from Jean Stoney, 1941 - though she retained his name in her professinal life as a pediatrician;
established studio at 13 Merrion Row with his sis. Melanie; joint exhibition, Dec. 1942; became acquainted with Erwin Schrödinger, de Valera’s guest at the DIAS (Burlington Rd.), 1943; on the rejection of work by selection committee of the annual RHA, he established the Irish Exhibition of Living Art, a salon des refusés, with Mainie Jellett (Chairman), Evie Hone, Norah McGuinness, Ralph Cusack, Jack Hanlon, SJ, and Margaret Clarke (wife of Harry Clarke), at the suggestion of his mother Sybil; lectured on colour to Dublin University Experimental Science Soc., Oct. 1943; painted Young Woman with Iris, being a portrait of Beatrice Campbell, 1944; painted Famine Cottages (1944); featured in Vogue (Oct. 1946), with Robert Collis, Micheal Mac Liammoir, and others; protested when Roualt’s Christ and the Soldiers was rejected by the Dublin Corporation at behest of Seán Keating and others, 1942; frequently contrib. to letters column of The Irish Times - a ‘dangerous facility for writing to me ’ acc. to editor Smyllie;
painted stage-sets for Jimmy O’Dea pantomimes and reviews; painted Condemned Man (1945), showed at IELA 1945, where it was seen by Charles and Kay Gimpel, resulting in a meeting, 27 Sept. 1947, and later a trip to Gimpel Fils (London), also 1947 - resulting in long-standing association with that gallery; incl. in British Council exhib. of Contemporary British painting toured to Athens, Rome, Paris and Prague, 1948-49; moved to London, Nov. 1946; met Jankel Adler, Robert MacBride, Keith Vaughan, Robert Colquhun, and others; painted Classic Theme, III (not extant); elected to RHA, 1949; resigned from the Living Art in 1950 in reaction against the arbitrary powers of selection committee; occupied ateliers in London, Paris, and Cannes; widely exhibited Irish artist since appearing at the Venice Biennale in 1956 - with Hilary Heron; winner of the Pre-alpina Prize [ Premio Acquisito Internationale] with A Family (1951), previously offered to the Municipal Gallery and later ultimately purchased by Lochlann and Brenda Quinn for £1.7m. in 2001, being donated soon after to the National Gallery of Ireland under the section 1003 of the Taxes Consolidation Act - becoming the sole work in the collection to be displayed in the artist’s lifetime; Premio Acquisto Internationale, Venice Biennale, 1956; fnd. Signa, a design company, with Michael Scott; founded, with others, the Kilkenny Design Centre, 1963 [instigated by the Design in Ireland report of 1961 commissioned by William Walsh and executed by a Scandavian team];
met Anne Madden-Simpson (b.1932) at a party which he gave jointly with Peter Luke; m. Anne, reg. office in London and then by church ceremony in Chartres Cathedral, 1958, with whom afterwards two sons, Pierre and Alexandre; settled at Carros in the S. France, nr. Nice; studio in terraced olive-grove designed by Ronnie Tallon (of Scott and Tallon); in early studies of tinkers and children; his “white period” inspired by sunlight on a family in Pyrenees village; nude figures with viscera and vertebrae picked out in carmine occasioned by sympathy for Anne’s spinal operation; experienced impasse and destroyed a year’s work, 1963; a series of heads of writers - incl. Yeats, Joyce, Beckett, Wilde [‘Head’, 1990], and Lorca - initially inspired after period of impasse by a display of decorated Polynesian heads in the in the Musée de l’Homme in Paris (‘the head was a magic box that held the spirit prisoner’); and illustrated works of J. M. Synge, Donagh MacDonagh, and other Irish writers and also Lorca], as well as Thomas Kinsella’s Táin translation (Dolmen Press, 1969; & OUP) and Joyce’s Dubliners (1986); created highly-acclaimed Aubasson tapestries (e.g., “Garlanded Goat”, 1949-50); member of the RHA; awarded hon. D. Litt. (TCD) 5 July 1962; appt. Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, 1975; elected Saoi, Aosdána, 1994 [var. 1992]; a documentary programme on le Brocquy was broadcast by RTE in 1996; Hon. Ll. D., University College, Dublin, 1988; Officier des Arts et des Lettres, 1996; IMMA/Glen Dimplex award for a sustained contribution to the visual arts in Ireland, 1998; Hon. D. Phil., Dublin City University, 1999; Officier de l’Ordre de la Couronne Belge, Belgium, 2001;
exhibits new [revised] tapestries at Agnew’s Gallery, Old Bond Street, London, May 2001; issues a new series incl. “Figures in Procession”, “Dove”, and “Orifice”; “Travelling Woman with Newspaper ”, acquired by Michael Smurfit, made a record for an Irish painter of any period at £1.4m.; awarded Hon. D. Univ., Queen’s University, Belfast 2002; commissioned portrait of Bono [Paul Hewson] unveiled to mark reopening of National Portrait Gallery (NGI, Dublin); Hon. D. Phil., Dublin Institute of Technology, 2004; commissioned portrait-head of Bono unveiled at National Gallery of Ireland, 2004; his 90th birthday was widely celebrated in 2006; received invitation to Arás an Uachtaráin to accept as to his life achievement, 27 Oct. 2006; new work exhibited at Taylor Gallery, March 2006; ninetieth anniversary celebrated by show of “heads” series at National Gallery of Ireland (the first devoted to a living artist), Autumn 2006; Hon. Associate, NCAD, Dublin, 2006; new exhibition, Gimpel Fils Gallery, London, Nov. 2006; received Freedom of the City of Dublin, 2007; his work is in the Municipal Gallery, Dublin, the Ulster Museum, Belfast, and others internationally; A Family is one of the 10 paintings on the shortlist of masterpieces currently being promoted by RTÉ in a public vote to identify Ireland’s ‘favourite painting’, April 2012; A Louis le Brocquy commemorative stamp was issued in 1977.
suffered illness associated with old age and d. 11 a.m., 25 April 2012; a memorial service was held at St. Patrick’’s Cathedral, Sat. 28 May, attended by President Mihcael D. Higgins, Bono [Paul Hewson], the Edge, and a large number of Irish cultural figures, with addresses by Patrick Mark Hederman (O.S.B), Seamus Heaney, Antony Cronin [a reading a poem], and Barbara Dawson; afterwards cortèged and interred in Callery Church of Ireland cemetery, Co. Wicklow, with members of Anne le Brocquy-Madden’s family Jeremy and Esther; an obituary by Michael McNay appeared in the Guardian (26 April 2012); another [by Charles Lysaght] appeared in The Irish Times (28 April 2012). BREF [FDA]
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RTÉ has marked the 10th anniversary of le Brocquy’s death with an issue of John Bowman’s Sunday Archive programme consisting in recordings of interviews with and about him with others incl. James White, Jack Yeats, Jack Hanlon all featuring- online. (Noticed by David Britton at 20th-century Irish Art group in Facebook; accessed 01.05.2022.


A Gallery of the Works of Louis le Brocquy

Note: this is an informal listing of literary connections and works of special interest. For an catalogue of the paintings, see the full-scale website devoted to le Brocquy on the Anne Madden website [online; accessed 20.06.2011].
See Anne Madden on Arts Lives (RTE) - a clip that includes Bono [‘we don’t know what we have here’], Adrian Dunne, Tony Cronin, Richard Kearney, and others [56:44 mins - online].
See also Anne Madden, exhibition curated by Enrique Juncosa (London: Scala 2007), 174 pp., ill. [col.; ports (some col.), 26 x 28cm. to accompany an exhibition held at Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, 27 June - 30 Sept. 2007; incls. bibliographical references.
Mountain Sequence Red, Quadripartite, by Anne Madden is featured with Fergus Bourke’s photo of a couple at Busáras and Jack Yeats’s Eileen Aroon in Fintan Cullen’s review of The Moderns: The Arts in Ireland from 1990s to the 1970s, ed. Enrique Juncosa & Christine Kennedy (Irish Museum of Modern Art 2011), in The Irish Times, 23 July 2011, Weekend, p.12.
Three works by Le Brocquy entitled Study towards an Image of James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and W. B. Yeats were donated by the MOMA Gallery (Dublin) were donated by the Irish Government to the Modern Art Museum [MAM] in Rio in 1980 following a fire there in 1980. (See Peter O'Neill, ‘Irish Literature in Brazil Since 1888’, in Irish Studies in Brazil ed. by Munira H. Mutran & Laura P. Z. Izarra (São Paolo: Assoc. Editorial Humanitas 2005), Bibliography [sect.], pp..

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Illustrated Irish works incl. John Montague, A Chosen Light (1967), the first drawing in this being carried forward to the Selected Poems (1982); also Thomas Kinsella, trans., The Táin (Dublin: Dolmen 1969); drawings in Desmond O’Grady, The Gododdin, A Version from the Welsh (Dolmen 1977) [ltd. edn. 650]; Seamus Heaney, Ugolino (Cadenus Press 1979), 2 liths.; book design by Liam Miller; also James Joyce, Dubliners, with lithographs by Louis le Brocquy ([Mountrath, Laois]: Dolmen Press 1986), and Do. [rep. edn.] (Dublin: Lilliput Press 2008), 240pp. [pb.]

Tapestries: Travellers (1948), Garlanded Goat (1949-50), Allegory (1950), Eden series (1951-52), Inverted series (1948-99) [i.e., inverted colours], Tain series (1969-00), Cúchulainn series (1973-1999), Garden series (2000). His large-scale tapestry commissions include Brendan the Navigator (1963-64, UCD, Michael Smurfit School of Business, Dublin), The Hosting of the Táin (1969; Irish Museum of Modern Art), the Massing of the Armies (RTÉ, Dublin) and the monumental Triumph of Cúchulainn (National Gallery of Ireland, Millennium Wing) [See Anne Madden’s Louis le Brocquy pages at Anne Madden online].

Commentary, journal contributions incl. ‘A Painter’s Notes on Ambivalence’, in Crane Bag, 1.2 (1977), rep. in The Crane Bag Book (1982), pp.151-153; le Brocquy, ‘Study Towards an Image of James Joyce’ [Crane Bag Irish Studies, pp.154-58].

See also ‘The mystery of fact’, contrib. to Francis Bacon in Dublin, introd. by Barbara Dawson [Bacon Exhibition 2000] (London: Thames & Hudson 2000), 128pp. [4 folded]; incl. 66 col. ill., ports.; 22 cm. [Catalogue of an exhibition at Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery, Dublin, 1 June-31 Aug. 2000, with contribs. by Grey Gowrie, Louis le Brocquy, Cronin, Paul Durcan, and David Sylvester.)

Miscellaneous, Irish Landscape (Dublin: Gandon Eds. 1992; reiss. 1995), 99pp. 35 watercolours; incl. interviews with Michael Peppiatt and George Morgan [‘coloured water on white paper - mostly of Liffey and Beare Peninsula’]. Also Jeremy Madden-Simpson, The No Word Image (Dublin: Eason & Son [1987]), 79, [1]p: ill., with original signed lithograph by Louis le Brocquy [ltd. edn. of 500].

Illustrated works incl.
Ferdinand Levy, Flashes from the Dark, with sketch of the author by Louis Le Brocquy (Dublin: Printed at the Sign of the Three Candles 1941), 45 [1]pp. [front (port.)], 20cm. [162 copies numbered and signed by the author]. Note: Ferdinand [Northcut Constantine] Levy was a Jamaican living in Dublin at the time. [Available at TCD Library, Oxford, Cambridge, Nat. Lib. of Scotland, Univ. of Wales; posted at £300 on Abe Books, Sept. 2011.

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  • Dorothy Walker, Louis le Brocquy (Dublin: Ward River Press 1981; London: Hodder & Stoughton 1982), 167pp., ill. [140 pls.] incls. contribs. by John Russell; Walker; Earnán O’Malley; le Brocquy [‘A Painter’s Notes on his Irishness’, ‘Notes on Painting and Awareness’]
  • Richard Kearney, ‘Joyce and Le Brocquy: Art as Otherness’, in The Crane Bag, Vol. 6, No. 1 [James Joyce & the Arts in Ireland] (Dublin 1982), pp.32-40 [available at JSTOR - online].
  • Jacques Dupin [‘The Paintings of 1964 - 1966’]; Claude Esteban [‘Archaeology of the Face: Images of Lorca’]; Seamus Heaney [‘Louis le Brocquy’s heads’].
  • Richard Kearney, ‘Le Brocquy and Post-modernism’, in The Irish Review, 3 (1988), pp.61-66 [rep. in Transitions, 1987].
  • Anne Madden le Brocquy, Louis le Brocquy, A Painter Seeing His Way (Gill & Macmillan 1994), 335pp. [213pp. text; 118 duotones].
  • George Morgan, Louis le Brocquy: The Irish Landscape (Dublin: Gandon Editions 1992) 100pp., ill. [40 pls.] [incls. le Brocquy ‘Artist’s Note’; George Morgan, ‘Watercolour Landscape Painting: An interview with Louis le Brocquy’ [French - German trans.]; ltd. edn. of 250, signed by the artist; bound in dark grey cloth, black morocco spine, stamped in silver, in publisher’s matching slip-case [Kenny’s Bindery, Galway ].
  • George Morgan; Procession (Gandon Edns. 1995), 65pp. [incls. interview].
  • Alastair Smith, Louis le Brocquy, Paintings 1939-1996: A Retrospective (IMMA [Gandon] 1996), 10pp., incl. biochronology and bibliography.
  • George Morgan & and Micheal Peppiatt, Louis le Brocquy: The Head Image (Cork: Gandon Edns. 1995), 160pp., ill. [100 col. ills.].
  • George Morgan, Louis le Brocquy, Paintings 1939-1996 (Dublin: Gandon 1999, 2001).
  • Ailbhe Ní Bhriain, ‘Le Livre d’Artiste: Louis le Brocquy and The Tain (1969)’, in New Hibernia Review/Irish Éireannach Nua, 5, 1 (Spring 2001), pp.68-82.
  • ‘Louis le Brocquy, The Family’ [cover-story and feature], in Irish Arts, first issue (April-May 2002).
  • Síghle Breathnach-Lynch, Louis le Brocquy: Portrait Heads - A Celebration of the Artist’s Ninetieth Birthday (Dublin: NGI 2006), 80pp., ill.
  • Yvonne Scott, Louis le Brocquy: Allegory & Legend - The Hunt Museum (Limerick: The Hunt Museum 2006), 143pp., ill. [col.], 27 cm.
  • Fionna Barner, ‘Le Brocquy and Bacon Disturbed Ground: Francis Bacon, Traumatic Memory and the Gothic’, in The Irish Review, No. 39, No. 1 (Winter 2008), pp.125-38
  • Riann Coulter, ‘Louis le Brocquy’s Presences, 1956-64: Irish, British or International?’, in The Irish Review, 39, 1 (Winter 2008) pp.139-60.
  • M. Garvey, dir., Another Way of Knowing (RTE 1986) [film on le Brocquy
  • See Phoenix (Dec. 2000), a Satirical column reflecting on the money made from recycled tapestries with colour reversed.
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Michael Dibb
John Montague
Thomas Kinsella
Francis Bacon
Richard Kearney
Dorothy Walker
Aidan Mathews
Richard Demarco
Hilary Pyle
Anne Madden
Derek Mahon
MacCabe & Wilson
Ailbhe Ní Bhriain
Robert O’Byrne
Aidan Dunne
Tom Rosenthal
Ciaran Bennett
Aidan Dunne

Birthday tribute from President Mary McAleese, 27 Oct. 2006
[see Christina Newman (Irish Times) - infra]

See Tribute to Louis le Brocquy from Travellers’s Association (Pavee Point)
[The Irish Times, Letters, 28 April 2012 - infra.]

Michael Dibb, ‘Art: Six of One’ (The Dubliner, July-August 1962), pp.60-62: reviewing the RHA Exhibition, he begins with asservations: ‘[...] This lack of rigour and uncritical acceptance of everything is, unfortunately, widespread [...] the cumulative impression here is not of artists using the discoveries of the Twentieth Century intelligently or inventively, but of the discovevries too often being abused by unimaginative minds’. Artists discussed are Louis Le Brocquy [sic particle], Brrie Cooke, Patrick Scott, Camille Souter, Patrick Collins, Gerard Dillon, chosen for ‘their diversity and vitality and the fact that they are not marking time, rephrasing superficial idiosyncracies [sic], but are all developing and inventing within a personal set of references.’ (p.63). Of le Brocquy: ‘Louis Le Brocquy’s associations with Ireland have been greatly refined by his sojourn in France. The initial effect of his recent exhibition is dazzling. One is caught up in the immaculate surfaces, the brilliance of the colours, “dazzling whiteness”, “heavenly blue”, even the temperature of red heat is lowered by the cool technique. The appeal is sophisticated and romantic but at the centre of the sheerness is a hint of viscera and bones, rather macabre, like bloodstains on a wedding dress. He calls some of his paintings “being”, “being merging”, “emergent being”; he is concerned with existence both as a painter and as a human entity, and from this conflict between his obvious joy in the handling of paint and sensual awareness of the human form his paintings gain their disturbing yet alluring presence. At his worst, at his least oblique, for instance in his paintings of shadowed heads with mangled brains, he degenerates to a rather facile sickness.’ (p.61.)

John Montague, ‘Yeats, the most varied mind of the Irish race, the last - and perhaps the only - Romantic poet in English to manage a full career. Le Brocquy, the most dedicated Irish paitner since Yeats’s brother died, with an intuitive sympathy for literature and mythology, an increasingly rare reverence before the human./Their meeting has an aspect of inevitability. […]’ (‘Faces of Yeats’, pref. to exhibition catalogue, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 1976; rep. in Etudes Irlandaises, 1977; see also Montague’s preface to Images of Joyce [Gimpel, touring, 1977-78], rep. in The Crane Bag, 1& 2, 1978). See also Montague’s remarks at the time of Le Brocquy’s death in 2012, infra.

John Montague, ‘Jawseyes’, in Crane Bag Book of Irish Studies (1982), speaks of ‘Le Brocquy’s fascination with Joyce [...] aboriginal Irish face [...] anti-mask of the artist [...] these lefthanded manscapes [...] invincible armour of self-mockery’. (pp.159-60.)

Thomas Kinsella (Rosc Exhib. Cat., p.78), identifies ‘the gift of concentration’ and ‘steady energy’ as well as an ‘individual force[,] stemming from tireless curiosity’ as le Brocquy’s central qualities, and mentions ‘[b]lank stares’ and ‘tenuous beings and presences’. He comments of the Táin: ‘when le Brocquy’s technical means are restricted, as with the black brush drawings commissioned for a translation of the early Irish epic The Tain (1969) - with the subjects prescribed and the tone preset- it is characteristic that his art should burst into sensual excess, copious revitalising of primal images - of bull, hound and carrion-crow, of warrior, queen and horde. And, again, coherence is a heature of the performance. The apparently random commission found a prepared response - even a prepared style, as a cover design for a book of Irish tales drawn by le Brocquy many years earlier, attests. The effect is to throw a stronger emphasis on the Celtic (not necessarily Irish) elemnt that has formed his work since the early 1960s.’ (See Brian O’Doherty, The Irish Imagination 1959-1971, 1971.)

Francis Bacon: ‘Le Brocquy belongs to a category of artists who have always existed, obsessed by figuration, outside and on the other side of illustration, who are aware of the vast and potent possibilities of inventing ways by which fact and appearance are reconjugated.’ (Cited in Dorothy Walker, Louis le Brocquy, 1981, q.p.).

Richard Kearney, ‘Le Brocquy and Post-Modernism’, in The Irish Review, 3 (1988), pp.62-66; evokes ‘exposure of depth on surface’ and the ‘dismantling of historical time’ which is a ‘central feature of postmodernist art’; also, ‘le Brocquy’s post-modernist balancing of the old and the new’; considers that each of le Brocquy’s faces echoes the vow of Beckett’s unnameable [sic] narrator: “I can’t go on, I’ll go on.”’ Bibl., le Brocquy, ‘A Painter’s Notes on Ambivalence, in Crane Bag Book of Irish Studies (Blackwater Press 1982), pp.151-52; le Brocquy, ‘Notes on Painting and Awareness’, in Painting and Poetry [Symposium] (Nice University 1979).

Dorothy Walker, ‘Indigenous Culture and Irish Art’, in Crane Bag Book (1982), pp.131-35: ‘Louis le Brocquy in his tortuously sensitive paintings of heads is again both consciously and instinctively using the Celtic cult of heads as the powerful central motif of his own modern statement about the isolation of man from the earliest paleolithic times to the overcrowded present, the confinement of the spirit inside each individual skull’ (p.135). See also remarks on Walker’s writings on le Brocquy in Modern Irish Culture, ed. W. J. McCormack (Oxford: Blackwell 1999), infra.

Aiden Mathews, ‘Modern Irish Poetry, A Question of Covenants’: ‘A notable contribution to the canon of this myth [i.e., the canonisation of poets] may be distinguished in Le [sic] Brocquy’s portfolio studies of the three men [..] cited. His ‘exagminations’ of Beckett, Joyce and Yeats inhabit the idiom of the remote, the inaccessible, his figures are spectral, fugitive, their approachable humanity eroded by creative travail since, in the Roman cadences of the master, “they who half live in eternity must endure a rending of the structure of the mind, a crucifixion of the intellectual body” le Brocquy has not striven to impart the angular and the whimsical Beckett; nor chosen to express the avuncular bourgeois Yeats; nor sought to bring to birth the burly, hilarity of Joyce. The faces he conjures reside in a cold and opaque zone, their eyes recall the death masks of Egyptian pharoahs. Tacit concelebrants of anguished mysteries, tight-lipped, locked in a motionless trauma, such images will not stand sponsor to any aesthetic that endeavours to constitute a new human comedy, a credo of plenitude, promiscuous and abundant life. /.../ This myth is, this highly improbable pose, issues for a confusion in our minds between the singular man and the isolate man [...]’ (The Crane Bag, [3.1], 1979; 1982, p.381.)

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Richard Demarco, ‘Celtic Vision in Contemporary Thought’, in Robert O’Driscoll, ed., The Celtic Consciousness (Dolmen/Canongate 1981), pp.519-50: ‘Louis le Brocquy has long been regarded as an outstanding Irish artist.’; cites the painter’s remarks at lecture of 1978 in Toronto; Le Brocquy likens the process of painting over 200 heads of Yeats, Joyce, and Lorca to a ‘type of archaeology, an archaeology of the spirit’. [543] / Further, ‘In Louis le Brocquy’s work, then, we have a contemporary artist using an innate Celtic sensibility to illuminate the artistic consciousness of our time. When I exhibited his heads of Yeats in the 1977 Edinburgh Festival I did so alongside a series of heads carved in Northern Ireland between the third century B.C. and our own time, demonstrating the truth of Henry moore’s statement that art is “a universal continuous activity with no separation between past and present.” (p.545.) Further [on the artist’s wife:] ‘Anne Madden finds her inspiration in the megaliths of Ireland and in the landscape of her native land, Connemara stone, and the great storm-tossed Atlantic cloud formations. Yet her paintings are not developments of an abstract concept, but the paints she uses dictate what emerges on the canvas: “what breaks through, emerging from behind the surface of her canvas, is neither dolmen nor menhir, but paint - paint which asks to be recognised as such.’ (Dominique Fourcade, Anne Madden, Paris 1979, p.5), She infuses the ancient megalithic forms with a modern consciousness and explosive sensuality, painting as much out of th edepths of her own being as out of the depth of the mythological past, creating a “heart of reality” that “craves for light”, with the light in turn carcing “for further light”, light “which isolates every sold mass simply by virtue of its inner living growth [...] Light which is the very limit of our [545] being, this limit - whether delible or not - lying within us.” I am reminded of André Breton’s statement: deeper than the deepest ocean is the heart of a woman.’ (pp.545-46.]

Hilary Pyle, review of Jack B. Yeats, in Modern Painters: Quarterly Journal of the Fine Arts, 4.2 (Summer 1991), pp.90-91: ‘Other Irish artists have had long and distinguished careers within the European modern tradition - I think of Roderic O’Conor, Leech, and particularly le Brocquy. But of these only le Brocquy has come near to Yeats in “improving” his work as he went along, rather than attaining a zenith which he could never reach again. Some of Yeats’s greatest pictures were painted at the age of eighty, and we have yet to see whether le Brocquy can emulate this. There is no doubt and in material terms it can be confirmed in the awards which he received during his lifetime in his own country as well as abroad - that Yeats was regarded, and rightly, as Ireland’s greatest artist of the first half of the twentieth century [...].’ (p.90.)

Anne Madden [le Brocquy], Louis le Brocquy, A Painter Seeing His Way (Gill & Macmillan 1994): Louis read Rimington’s Colour Chords (1912), although he never witnessed his colour organ, constructed to cause a flush of successive hues onto a screen [sic]. Louis also studies Newton’s colour scale, which was closely allied with the musical octave, and [‘]was surprised to hear that in the fourth century b.c. Aristotle already held that “Colours may mutually relate, like musical chords, for their pleasantest arrangements, as those concords mutually proportionate”. Rimington arbitrarily presumed that the note C corresponded to pure red ...’ (p.63.)

Derek Mahon, Journalism: Selected Prose 1970-1995 (Oldcastle: Gallery Press 1996), incls., ‘macNeice in Ireland and England’, pp.21-29; in the context of discuss of BBC’s use of cave-acoustics for broadcasting effects, comments on similarity between Lescaux cave painting and ‘the primitive notations of Louis le Brocquy’ (p.40).

Martin MacCabe & Michael Wilson [‘art, contemporary’], in Modern Irish Culture, ed. W. J. McCormack (Oxford: Blackwell 1999), discern ‘a pattern of criticism [...] whereby a handful of practitioners in the late 1960s and 1970s championed the cause of certain individual artists in relation to one or more of the valorized terms “Irishness”, “Modernity”, “individuality”, “expressivity”, “sensitivity” and “landscape”. Dorothy Walker’s, writings on the work of Louis le Brocquy are an appropriate example of this tendency.’ (p.35.) Further: ‘ speaking of work ‘produced in a High Romantic mode which treats the landscape as an enduring repository of native value and identity’, MacCabe and Wilson write: ‘Landscape was promoted as the quintessential subject matter in Irish art, where artists articulate their “Irishness” and express their “Celtic imagination”. Beyond landscape as the privileged signifier for this Celtic sensibility, the portraiture of Louis le Brocquy has also been presented by this discourse as essentializing and reifying this Celtic imagination.’ (Ibid., p.36.) Note: there is no separate article on le Brocquy in this work.

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Ailbhe Ní Bhriain, ‘Le Livre d’Artiste: Louis le Brocquy and The Tain (1969)’, in New Hibernia Review/Irish Éireannach Nua, 5, 1 (Spring 2001), pp.68-82: ‘Le Brocquy’s art [in the Tain] cannot accurately be described as “brutal”, yet le Brocquy does echo these ideals in using mythology to escape what he had described as the “picturesque images” and “social irreality” of Irish Irish art. (Quoted in Dorothy Walker, Le Brocquy, p.91.) Le Brocquy’s early paintings of Ireland’s itinerant “travellers”, like Travellers Making a Twig Sign, are partly influenced by Synge’s descriptions in his prose of the wildness and vitality of the travelling and island communities, and resemble studies of a primitive ancestral culture. In his early paintings, this ancestral search can be related to landscapes in Famine Cottages (1944). By the early 1960s, the ancestral search had taken the form of depicting the human head in paintings “reconstructing” and “evoking” images of such Irish rebels as Wolfe Tone in Evoked Head of an Irish Martyr (1964). [... l]e Brocquy spent extended periods in France and, indeed, he resided there from the 1950s onwards. There, in close [71] contact with Henri Matisse and Alberto Giacometti, he absorbed the tradition of the livre d’artiste and the painter illustrator. / By 1967, the year in which Lima Miller commissioned drawing for The Tain, le Brocquy had already illustrated two books: Austin Clarke’s Poetry in Modern Ireland (1961) and J. J. Campbell’s legends of Ireland (1955). He had also worked once with the Dolmen Press: he designed the head and tail piece for Donagh MacDonagh’s broadside Love Duet (1954). The project of The Tain was, then, one personal to both artist and translator, and should be seen as a collaborative effort fostered by Liam Miller, the maître d’oeuvre.’ (pp.71-22.) [Cont.]

Ailbhe Ní Bhriain (‘Le Livre d’Artiste: Louis le Brocquy [...]’, in New Hibernia Review, Spring 2001) - cont. : ‘In his Tain illustrations, the ability of le Brocquy’s drawings to emerge and dissolve gives fittting expression to the peculiar marriage of mysticism and raw physicality contained in Kinsella’s text. Like gestures of primeval fear, strnght, or passion, the “explosive” energy of the brushwork captures the phsyical exuberance [77] of the texst, as can be seen in the images of “bodily matters” and of violence, as in th eseveral drawings of Cúchulainn’s “warp spasms”. [...] In retaining a certain abstraction, le Brocquy’s drawings suggest the magical, the fantastical character of the Ulster saga. in Liam Miller’s setting, Kinsella’s text and le Brocquy’s images function together as a whole, the illustrations forming in le Brocquy’s words, “an extension of the text”, thus qualifying The Tain as a livre d’artiste.’ (p.78.)

Robert O’Byrne, ‘The travelling life that created Ireland’s greatest living artist’ (Irish Times, 20 May 2000): While appreciating abstraction, he has always been a figurative artist and is best known today for his portaits celebrating major creative figures onf the twentieth century such as Beckett, Yeats and Joyce. These are cultural icons, and therefore Le Brocquy’s interpretation of their heards possesses an unquestionable iconic authority. / So, too, does he, as is proved by the price achieved this week for his Travelling Woman.

[Anon.] ‘The Other Louis le Brocquy’, in Phoenix (15 Dec. 2000) “Pillars of Society” [sat. column]: sets out from the remark that £12 million [worth] of le Brocquy’s work will have been sold within a twelve-month period and gives an account of the production and marketing of the tapestries; sale of Travelling Woman to Michael Smurfit for £1.4m following bid of £1.2 from London dealer Alan Hobart; previous high price was for Man Writing (1951), sold at Christies’ for £133,000 in 1997; muted colours and families in isolation in period after separation from Jean Stoney; Eden tapestries in the early 1950s; Travelling Woman believed to have been put on market by the le Brocquys themselves; catalogue estimate of £2-300,000; heads in mid-’sixties; Táin brush paintings in late 1960s; “Figures in Procession”, “Dove”, and “Orifice” series; Dorothy Walker, his biographer (1981), received gifts which sold for £153,000 at de Vere’s; le Brocquy in receipt of major grants from the CRC to mount exhibition in Japan, amounting to 25% of the annual visual arts allocation in 1990; 38% in 1991 and a further sum in 1992; notes that an Anne Madden was purchased by the Arts Council at the Kerlin Gallery; RTE to buy largest tapestry in the series, The Massing of the Armies. Feature ends on ascerbic comment: ‘Ironically, it’s the Celtic Tiger that has made a millionare of this artist who shook the dust of the auld sod from his boots half a century ago but has now returned to the source of his inspiration.’

Aidan Dunne, ’Archaeologist of the spirit’, in The Irish Times (9 Sept. 2006) [Weekend]: ‘[...] Le Brocquy is best known for his paintings of heads, usually famous heads, including those of a triumvirate of literary heavyweights: W. B. Yeats, James Joyce and Samuel Beckett. In a way these portraits are a high-cultural equivalent of Andy Warhol’s silkscreen paintings of celebrity icons like Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. / Both bodies of work emerged initially in the same decade, the 1960s, and they might be seen to converge in one of the most recent of le Brocquy’s subjects, Bono. [...] His evocations of individual heads, living or dead, come with a rider. They are Studies towards an image of ..., and they occur in sequential multiples rather than single, definitive versions. [...] The subjects of his heads veer between virtual anonymity and iconic status. Ancestral Head, for example, is effectively anonymous but marks out the territory: not so much making a portrait per se as engaging in an “archaeology of the spirit”, reconstructing not likeness but imaginative life. [...] Throughout his long bouts of wrestling with his named subjects - a list that also includes Federico García Lorca, Seamus Heaney, Francis Bacon and Pablo Picasso - likeness is both a boon and an encumbrance. It grounds the image, but can also tie it to a formulaic restatement of familiar features. / When the balance is right, le Brocquy manages to engender a feeling of tenuous, fugitive presence, providing a glimpse into the mysterious complexity of mental life and spirit. There is also a sense of cultural placement, not in the sense of merely iterating an Irish literary canon - though that is an obvious danger - but in terms of locating particular sensibilities and imaginations in terms of historically derived identity, a view of individual consciousness as extending forwards and backwards in time, in terms of genetic and other, more conscious influences.’ (For full text, see infra.)

Christine Newman, in The Irish Times (28 Oct. 2006.): ‘President Mary McAleese yesterday paid tribute to artist Louis le Brocquy whom she received at Áras an Uachtaráin to mark his 90th birthday. / Le Brocquy was accompanied by his wife Anne Madden and Seamus and Marie Heaney. / Mrs McAleese, wishing the artist a very happy birthday, said she wanted to give him thanks for these wonderful 90 years and, in particular, for the wonderful years he had given to Ireland. / “We have been familiar with your work for so many years now and your name has carried right around the world through the Saoi of Aosdána, the Venice Biennale, the Legion d’Honneur ... What a life, what a career. Thank you for the wonderful work you have done and the way you have represented Ireland,” she said. / Mrs McAleese added: “It is a truly wonderful thing to possess such an amazing gift and to be able to bring it to perfection, as you have done, over a lifetime.” / Le Brocquy, a Dubliner, will be 90 on November 10th. His birthday is being marked by a series of exhibitions and events. One is at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, which is showing selected works until January 7th; another will take place at the National Gallery, concentrating on his head images, from next month until January 14th. / In Paris, a retrospective of his works is being shown until November 10th. There will be exhibitions at the Tate Britain in London from November 6th to 22nd; the Fenton Gallery, Cork, from November 10th to December 2nd; Gimpel Fils, London, from November 24th to January 13th; and Dublin City Gallery (Hugh Lane) from January to March 2007. / Just this week a watercolour by Le Brocquy fetched a record £153,600 (€229,000) at an auction of post-war Irish art at Sotheby’s in London. / The painting, Study of Francis Bacon”, was purchased by a private Irish buyer and its price was the highest ever paid for a work by the artist on paper. / Two other pieces by Le Brocquy also featured in the top 10 purchases at the auction: Study of Head from Memory”, an oil on canvas, was sold for £96,000; and “Still Life with Fruit”, in pencil and watercolour, fetched £19,200.’

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Tom Rosenthal, ‘Playing with the Past’, review of Louis le Brocquy: Homage to His Masters [exhibition] (Gimpel Fils, Davies St., London W1 – 22 Dec. – 7th Jan.), in The Spectator (2 Dec. 2006), pp64-65: ‘[...] Le Brocquy is, in the very best, purest, and even literal sense, a literary artist. While he has an an obsession with heads, worked out over decades and in literally hundreds of paintings, drawings, and graphic works, this is neither physiological nor anthropological. The heads which obsess him are not the conventional portrait studies done by virtually every artist who tackles mankind, but, because of his choice of subject, studies in literary analysis. Nearly all the best pictures are the heads of writers he loves, mostly are his fellow Irishmen: W. B. Yeats, Joyce, Beckett, Heaney plus one or two painters including Picasso and and, inevitably perhaps, Bacon. One of the few non-Irish writers is Lorca and, because we are so familiar with the features of, say, Yeats or Beckett, the Lorcas are the most surprising and, doubtless, because of his appalling death, the most haunted and haunting. / Le Brocquy is also a dazzlingly inventive book illustrator. Of the many illustrated editions of Joyve’s The Dubliners [sic] his is, by a long way, the best; the most faithful to the stories and because of this the most evocative of Joyce’s prose and, particularly, of the city that gave the collection its title. His brush drawings for Synge’s Playboy of the Western World are, as befits the play, much wilder than his other. more controlled illustrations, yet equally, convincing. But his undoubted masterpiece is the 1969 Dolmen Press edition of Thomas Kinsella’s superb translation of that great Ulster epic tale The Táin. This inspired Seamus Heaney to write the poem entitled “Le Brocquy’s Táin”, which encapsulates le Brocquy’s genius as illustrator just as the painter has caught the essence of the poet’s striking head: “And “Horseman” A horse / beneath him as dangerous / As the one that broke / Out of its scroll one midnight / And trarnpled the paddy fields.” / Add to these his superb Aubusson tapestries as seen at Agnew’s in 2001 and you have an artist of extraordinary versatility. [...]’ (For full text, see Ricorso Library, “Criticism/Reviews”, infra.)

Ciaran Bennett, note to Louis le Brocquy, Reconstructed Head of a Young Man, 1968, in Whyte’s Important Irish Art [Catalogue] (26 Nov. 2007). The article commences by suggesting a link between ‘the emotive texture and brushstrokes of the head in Francis Bacon’s Painting, 1946, and the versions of Woman by Willem de Kooning, which were painted nearly ten years later. ‘The umbrella man of Bacon’s great painting, with its sides of pork - an assemblage o~ cannibalistic and quixotic iconography of the urban man - seemed to have a direct parallel to de Keening’s Woman.’ Further ‘With Louis le Brocquy, and particularly the head series, the iconography of the Neolithic temple of Entremont in France aand the cult of the severed head, is equally pertinent to de Kooning’s interest in ancient fetishes of the female deity. Le Brocquy’s body of work with the head, which has been a source of exploration and engagement for him, has direct parallels to the head of de Kooning’s painting in Woman. The discovery in Paris of the decorated craniums from ancient cultures le Brocquy in 1964 was a seminal moment in his practice as an artist. This paralleled the momentous epoch in New York. where the European avant-garde had been in exile through the Second World War, and out of which had developed Abstract Expressionism or the New York School. / Like Bacon, de Kooning decided to continue this exploration of the body in space and the iconographic aspects of its physical presence as a motif, and integrated the apparent extremes of paint and application into a more formally constructed but deliberately eviscerated surface quality. The paint has its own internal dynamic, as in abstraction, but the consideration of the motif has a challenging identity which responds to our historical relationship with classical western art and ancient symbolism. / It is this parallel tradition to late modernist abstraction that places Louis le Brocquy’s work of this period succinctly within the tradition of Bacon and de Kooning. The brushstrokes emote a sense of deconstructed internal dialogue, yet succinctly articulate an image: the human head.’ [Bennet is Pollock Krasner Research Fellow, NY 2007.)

Aidan Dunne, ‘Louis le Brocquy: Portrait of the Artist’, in The Irish Times (26 April 2012): ‘In the latter half of the 1950s he made notable paintings, concentrating on the individual, isolated human presence. They see him move towards the dazzling white ground that became something of a trademark for him and was reputedly inspired by Spanish sunlight. Many of them featured a central, spinal form. He had met Anne Madden at the time, and she was dealing with an old spinal injury sustained when she was a teenager. In mood, the 1950s paintings reflect not just this personal sense of fragility but also the brooding unease of the time: the enduring legacy of the second World War; Cold War anxieties; existentialist philosophy. The next major artistic development in his work was the advent of the Heads. By his own account, he“d reached an impasse and destroyed almost a year”s work. One day, in the Musée de l’Homme in Paris, he chanced on a display of decorated Polynesian heads. Shortly after, he linked them in his mind to the Celtic head cult. They shared the idea that, as he put it: “The head was a magic box that held the spirit prisoner.” Immediately he figured out a way to revitalise and destabilise the tired genre of portraiture as being neither a straight representational likeness nor a Pop Art icon in the mode of Andy Warhol. He began to make a series of densely worked, multi-layered, spectral, ancestral heads emerging from a white ground. Each image is shifting and indeterminate, something expressed in his decision to title many of the works Study towards an image of ... To his great credit, he succeeded in his self-imposed task of making portraiture an “archaeology of the spirit”. He was, he said, aiming towards the subject he was painting, not trying to capture a likeness. Rather than presuming anything, he was feeling his way towards a sense of the person as a complex imaginative being. In time, the subjects came to include many major literary and artistic figures, including the great Irish literary triumvirate of Yeats, Joyce and Beckett – the latter was a personal friend. Evening Herald photograph of a religious procession of young girls on Merchant’s Quay, Dublin, on Bloomsday 1939. [...]’

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John Montague (Irish Times, 26 April 2012): ‘[...] know Louis best during the 1960s, when I was Paris Correspondent of The Irish Times. Louis and Anne would come up from their home in the south of France, and plunge into whatever was happening in Paris, which could include a new exhibition of Louis at the Galerie Jeanne Bucher in the rue de Seine, or indeed Le Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville’s display of his Yeats portraits. And in the evening we would gather with much hilarity at some watering hole, along with sundry fellow artists, writers and the like. With his fair, delicate looks, Louis could seem vague (Anne and I used to teasingly call him “Your Royal Vagueness”), yet he was anything but, being in his own way immensely practical. To go to the Jeu de Paume museum with him, for example, was quite an experience, with his intimate sense of how a painting should be presented. He was great on the dialogue between wall and frame, and frame and canvas. While other visitors gazed appreciatively at each picture in turn, Louis filled me with a sense of wonder at the harmony of a room, and the importance of things like the hue of wooden frames, or how to avoid hanging a painting too high or too low (most are mounted too high, he said). He was working on the drawings for Thomas Kinsella’s Táin, and while every little detail seemed to matter, they could also look as nearly mystical as the drug-induced visions of Henri Michaux. There was also something uncanny about his portrait gallery of Irish writers. It was as if the painting was a Veil of Veronica, on which he summoned a ghostly head. His portraits of the later Joyce are heartbreaking, while his Yeats are challenging, with that now-legendary face sometimes stern, other times passionate or full of wild imaginings – or, like the face of an Irish Prospero, conjuring spirits. Louis used white as other painters do shadow, and as he grew older and more frail, he began to look like a Louis le Brocquy, all fine blanched lines, with a light seeming to shine from within. His career as a painter has been exemplary, and we are all grateful.’ (Available online; accessed 05.06.2012.)

Tribute to Louis le Brocquy from Travellers’s Association (Pavee Point): ‘Sir, – Pavee Point wish to express our sadness at the passing of the artist Louis le Brocquy. His celebrated “Tinker Series” documented the life of Travellers in the 1940s and illustrated his insight into the position of Travellers as marginalised in society – a position he also found himself in from time to time. / His support for Travellers went beyond painting and Louis kindly gave us permission to publish his Tinker Series in calendar format in 2006. He went even further in showing his support and solidarity by agreeing to speak at the launch held in the National Gallery to celebrate Traveller Focus Week that year. He was an unassuming man and at the launch was particularly interested in the work of a Traveller tinsmith present, acknowledging his talents as an artist too. He also personally wrote after the event to thank a Traveller woman who presented him with a bunch of paper flowers. / In the calendar, Molly and Missy Collins were quoted as saying: “There’ll be loads of Travellers out there that won’t recognise what they see in the pictures until they look at them right and see what’s in them and be proud of our past and recognise what Travellers went through to survive as part of Ireland ... May the light of heaven be on the ones (Travellers) who are dead and gone. / As the Travellers say: May the light of heaven be on Louis le Brocquy. – Yours, &, Ronnie Fay, Dir., Pavee Point Travellers’ Centre, N. Gt. Charles Street, Dublin 1.

[Charles Lysaght,] obit. in Irish Times (228 April 2013): ‘apparently from an early age le Brocquy exhibited the misture of dreamy abstarction and canny practicality that will be familliar to those who knew him in later years. [...] While he was not overtly political, le Brocquy’s instinctive liberalism, his sceptical attitude towards institutional religion and his aesthetic views served to situate him politically in a conservative society. Having mae accomplisehd representational lpaintings, he quickly moved beyond traditional naturalism, stylising and fragmenting his imagery in ways that displayed a good grasp of Cubism and other modernist innovations, then still haltingly and cautiously embraced in Ireland. [...] During le Brocquy and Madden’s stays ion Dublin, and after they settled back in Ireland, their home was the scene of lively social gatherings where more or less anyone involved in cultural pursuits, Irish-based on visiting, was likely to turn up. A charming and thoughtful man of modest demanour, le Brocquy was a fine converstaionalist with a wry, mischievous sense of humour.’


The Jokers

Ross O’Carroll Kelly [Paul Howard]: ‘I can’t wait to see Denis O’Brien wipe the floor with you in the High Court’, in The Irish Times (16 April 2016) -online.

I pop in to see the old man, just to check on him. Well, let’s be honest, I pop in to see him because I need money. But I don’t do my usual thing of heading straight for the safe behind the Louis le Brocquy in the study and helping myself to whatever’s inside. I actually go looking for him.

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Art and Industrial Design’: ‘Sir: The recent design seminar at Killarney may well succeed - where the Scandinavian and Design Council Reports have unaccountably failed - in spurring effective Government decision in the area of design. It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance of this decision to the country in its future European context. / Unfortunately, we have no assurance that Government action will be guided by the Killarney Proposals or indeed by either of the earlier reports, all of which envisage the creation of a national college of design at university level, withint which a school of art may be integreated. Should the outworn concept of a separate college of art (with craft appendages) still be considered - against all previous expert recommendation - then I [...] responsible [...] fare even when young. In pressing for reforms here and now, let us not. therefore, abandon our claim - our educational right - to university status and the full benefits of equal association with the aesthetic, technological and social disciplines of fellow design faculties. [...] Only the integration of free art and industrial design, in further association with architecture and other existent faculties at university level, can constitute a solution that is at once humane, effective, economic and geared to contemporary needs in the life of a small nation at this historically critical time. - Yoursetc. ’ [Signed form Carros 06, France]. (Letter to The Irish Times, 14 Jan. 1971, p.11. Note: elipses for missing lines in my half-page scrapbook copy.)

In conversation, when asked about his painting method, Louis was fond of repeating the famous rhyme:

A centipede was happy - quite!
Until a toad in fun
Said, “Pray, which leg moves after which?”
This raised her doubts to such a pitch,
She fell exhausted in the ditch
Not knowing how to run.

Note: The rhyme - which is lusually attributed to o Katherine Craster in Pinafore Poems, (1871) - is said to illustrate the the principle of as hyper-reflection or Humphrey's law discovered by the psychologist George Humphrey (1889–1966). See Wikipedia - online; accessed 27.10.2020. [This note by BS from memory of the artist.]

Artist’s Note to The Táin (1969; OUP Edn. 1970): ‘Any graphic accompaniment to a story which owes its existence to the memory and concern of a people over some twelve hundred years, should decently be as impersonal as possible. / The illuminations of early Celtic manuscripts express not personality but temperament. They provide not graphic comment on the text but an extension of it. Their means are not available to us today - either temperamentally or technically - but certain lessons may be learned from them relevant to the present work, in particular they suggest that graphic images, if any, should grow spontaneously and even physically from the matter of the printed text. / If these images - these marks in printer’s ink - form an extension to Kinselia’s Táin, they are a humble one. It is as shadows thrown by the text that they derive their substance.’ (p.viii.) [signed: L. le B. Carros, France / November 1968.]

Painting and Awareness’, in Études Irlandaises, ed. Patrick Rafroidi, et al. (Dec. 1979), pp.149-62: ‘I think that painting is not in any direct sense a means of communication or a means of self-expression. It is groping and watching/When you are painting you are tyring to discover, to uncover, to reveal. I sometimes think of the activity of painting as a kind of archaeology - an archaeology of the spirit. [...] what counts in painting is, I believe, recognition of significant accident within a larger preoccupation and not dexterity and skill and calculated imposition.’ (p.151). Note that this article quotes extensively from the aesthetics of Stephen Dedalus (‘claritas’) and cites also remarks of the mathematician Schroedinger - a wartime professorial guest at the DIAS - on consciousness, which he defines as a singular noun with no plural; it further includes autobiographical allusion to an arid period when the ‘accident’ did not happen for the artist, after which he was revitalised by a journey to Paris with his wife Anne Madden.

Ambivalent attitude: ‘It would appear that this ambivalent attitude [12; ...] was especially linked to the prehistoric Celtic world, and there is further evidence that it persists to some extent today [...] I myself have learned from the canvas that emergence and immergence - twin phenomena of time - are ambivalent; that one implies the other and that the martrix in which they exist dissolves the normal sense of time, producing a characteristic stillness.’ (‘A Painter’s Notes on Awareness’, in The Crane Bag, 1, 2, [q.d.], pp.68-69; rep. in Crane Bag Book of Irish Studies, 1982, pp.151-52; quoted in Richard Kearney, The Irish Mind, 1985, p.13.) Further: ‘Is this the underlying ambivalence which we in Ireland tend to stress; the continued presence of the historic past, the indivisibility of birth and funeral, spanning the apparent day-consciousness/night-consciousness, like (Joyce’s) Ulysses and Finnegan?’ (Idem.)

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Contemporary Artists [4th Edn.] (St Martin’s Press 1993), contains a full entry by D. C. Bennett; see also Who’s Who in Art, in which his address is given as Gimpel Fils, 30 Davies St., London, WIY 1LG.

There are full-scale website devoted to Louis le Brocquy at www.anne-madden.com. There is also a Wikipedia page - online [accessed 05.06.2012].

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Man Writing” by Louis le Brocquy went for £133,500 at a Christie’s Irish Art Sale in May 1996 (see Robert O’Byrne, ‘Irish Art - Then and Now’, in The Irish Times, 15 Aug. 2009, p.17).

Erwin Schrödinger: Schrödinger was invited to Dublin by de Valera in 1939 and stayed for 17 years; appointed director of the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies [DIAS] and resided in Clontarf, where he entered the Irish intelligentsia; his family consisted of wife, daughter and daughter’s mother, and later the daughters of two other mothers; resisted condemnation of Myles Na Gopaleen’s irreverence and became friends with O’Brien; advised him on his adaptation of The Insect Play by the Capek brothers. See John Gribben, Erwin Schrödinger and the Quantum Revolution (Bantam Press 2012), and review of same by Iggy McGovern in The Irish Times (2 June 2012), Review section, p.12.

A Family” (1951) by le Brocquy won the Prealpina Prize at Vienna Biennale, 1956; offered free to Municipal in the early 1950s; hung in Milan offices of Nestlé corporation until 2001; donated to the National Gallery of Ireland in April 2002 by Lochlann Quinn, a businessman who had purchased it from Mr. Adams of Agnew’s in London for £1.7 million and made the donation under the terms of the Taxes Consolidation Act. (See Report in The Irish Times [Weekend], 13 April 2002.)

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Study of Francis Bacon”: ‘A watercolour by Louis le Brocquy fetched a record £153,600 (€229,000) at an auction of post-war Irish art in London yesterday [24 Oct. 2006]. The painting, Study of Francis Bacon”, was purchased by a private Irish buyer and its price was the highest ever paid for a work by the artist on paper. Two other pieces by le Brocquy [...] also featured in the top 10 purchases at the Sotheby’s auction. “Study of Head from Memory”, an oil on canvas, was sold for £96,000 (€143,150) and Still Life with Fruit”, in pencil and watercolour, fetched £19,200 (€28,600). [...].’ (Fiona Gartland, ‘Post-war Irish art’ in The Irish Times, 25 Oct. 2006.)

River Liffey: A watercolour, River Liffey: The Source, by le Brocquy was auctioned at Adams in Blackrock for an estimated €10-12K.

See Anne Madden, exhibition curated by Enrique Juncosa (London: Scala 2007), 174 pp., ill. [col.; ports (some col.), 26 x 28cm. [to accompany an exhibition held at Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, 27 June - 30 Sept. 2007; incls. bibliographical references.
COPAC notice:

Anne Madden is one of Ireland’s foremost painters to have emerged since the 1950s. Of Irish and Anglo-Chilean origin, she spent her first years in Chile before coming to Ireland and England with her parents. In 1958 she moved to the south of France, where she exhibited internationally in both solo and group exhibitions, including Rosc ‘84 in Ireland and at the Paris Biennale where she represented Ireland.This lavish and unique monograph, published to accompany the in-depth retrospective exhibition at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in summer 2007, covers Anne Madden’s entire artistic career from the 1950s to the present. It features some of her most important paintings: “Self Portrait”, 1950; her early series of works inspired by the landscape of the Burren, such as “Clare Land,” 1967; and her series of Megaliths, Monoliths and Doorways, which are, in the late art critic Dorothy Walker’s words, like ‘giant forms emerging from the darkness of pre-history’. With a foreword by Enrique Juncosa, Director of IMMA, an essay and poem by Derek Mahon, and an illustrated chronology, this is a long-awaited tribute to one of Ireland’s most important contemporary painters.

—See COPAC online; accessed 30.07.2011.

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Up there: Mr le Brocquy’s oil portrait, “Image of Samuel Beckett”, was sold for £400,000 at the Sotheby’s Irish Auction in May 2007 (see The Irish Times, 10 May 2007).

Cash-strapped: ‘Cash-strapped buyers snub to le Brocquy sale; not in the market frame: Le Brocquys Travellers valued at £250,000 was left [un]claimed’, in The Daily Mail [London] (10 May 2008) - Gayle Schoales writes: ‘He is perhaps Ireland’s most celebrated artist. Some of his paintings sold for a staggering £1 million but buyers snubbed Louis le Brocquys recent sale. / The 91-year-old Dubliner had seven paintings up for auction at this weeks Sothebys Irish art sale but only one was snapped up for a fraction of its £250,000 guide price. The seven pieces, which included head-studies of James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, were valued at £250,000, but the painting sold for a mere £6,800. Le Brocquy is the first and only living painter to be included in the permanent Irish collection at the National Gallery of Ireland and usually his work attracts a flurry. But Grant Ford, Senior Director and Head of Irish Art at Sothebys was pragmatic about le Brocquy’s poor performance, attributing it to the poor economic climate. [...]’ Includes inset: ‘The early history of Irish visual art is generally considered to begin with early carvings found at sites such as Newgrange and is traced through Bronze Age artifacts, particularly ornamental gold objects, and the religious carvings and illuminated manuscripts of the medieval [period ... &c.]’

Locations: the largest tapestry is held in the Carroll’s factory building in Dundalk. Note also, a monochrome tiled floor based on the Táin “hosting” has been installed in the main area of the Verbal Arts Centre, Derry.

Closing Prices: The highest price for a le Brocquy painting was £1.7 million (€2.1m) for A Family (1951) paid by Lochlann Quinn in 2002 from a London art dealer, the painting being subsequently donated to the NGI in remission of tax liabilities. The highest price ever paid at auction for a le Brocquy was also in London – at Sotheby’s 12 years ago [2000] – when the painting Travelling Woman with Newspaper sold for £1.15 million (€1.4m). In Ireland, the highest price at auction was achieved at Adam’s in 2006 when the painting Sick Tinker Child sold for €820,000. But, by last year, the impact of Ireland’s economic crash was evident and prices had plummeted. The highest price paid for a le Brocquy painting in 2011 was at Sotheby’s in London where Woman in the Sunlight sold for £79,250. A few months later, two of his Traveller paintings failed to sell at Christie’s. (See The Irish Times, 5 May 2012.)

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