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Artist Louis le Brocquy, 1916-2012

Louis le Brocquy; Image of W.B. Yeats, 1975, oil on canvas
Louis le Brocquy; Image of W.B. Yeats, 1975, oil on canvas

Irish artist Louis le Brocquy died on April 25. He was born in Dublin on November 10, 1916. He was the son of Albert le Brocquy, the honorary secretary of the Irish League of Nations Society, and Sybil (née Staunton), co-founder of Amnesty International Ireland and a noted figure within Dublin's literary circles. The le Brocquy family knew William Butler Yeats and family.

Le Brocquy was educated at St. Gerard's School, Co. Wicklow, studied chemistry at Kevin Street Technical School, and then attended Trinity College Dublin. While a student, he also pursued an interest in art and produced two paintings, both of which were accepted for exhibition by the Royal Hibernian Academy.

In 1938 le Brocquy left Ireland to study European art collections, including: London's National Gallery, the Louvre in Paris and the Prado Collection on loan to Geneva. By 1940 he had returned to Ireland, where his own work was quickly noticed. His career spanned over seven decades and le Brocquy became internationally recognized as one of the foremost Irish painters of the 20th century. The “Head Images” of literary figures for which he is especially known began in 1964, with portraits of James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, and in 1975 he began the series on W.B. Yeats.

The John J. Burns Library is showing examples of work by le Brocquy in the exhibit “Painter, Illustrator, and Author: Irish Art in the Twentieth Century” curated by Boston College graduate student Andrew Kuhn. Louis le Brocquy’s work in the exhibit includes illustrations for the following titles: The Tain, Trans. Thomas Kinsella; Dubliners, James Joyce; Stirrings Still by Samuel Beckett; and Ugolino by Seamus Heaney.  The exhibit may be seen now through May 25, 2012 in the O’Brien Fine Print Room. The Burns Library owns other examples of le Brocquy’s work as well; please visit the Burns Library to learn more about him and other Irish artists.