Le Brocquy, Louis (1916- ) - 1940 Study for a Picnic (Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin)

Wax-resin medium on gesso-primed hardboard; 40 x 40 cm.


Irish painter and decorative artist. His sister, Melanie le Brocquy (b 1919), was a distinguished sculptor. In 1934 he joined the family business and studied chemistry at Trinity College and teaching himself to paint. He first exhibited at the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1937 and from 1938 spent two years studying Old Master paintings at the National Gallery, London, the Louvre, the Prado, and in Venice and Geneva.


There's something reverant and poetic about the entire body of work, as is evidenced by le Brocquy's frequent portraits of fellow Irish greats such as Oscar Wilde, WB Yeats and Samuel Beckett. Yet le Brocquy's poetry is always rigorously painterly and visual. He never falls off into literary illustration or compositional melodrama. As Francis Bacon once remarked, le Brocquy continues to be "obsessed by figuration outside and on the other side of illustration". And there is certainly a thematic otherness haunting all of his painterly and graphic work, whether it be the psychologically incisive portraits, ritualized figure gatherings, lyrical still-lifes or the long series of mist-drenched watercolor landscapes.


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Taken on December 13, 2008