Adam's IMPORTANT IRISH ART 8th December 2021

110 85 LOUIS LE BROCQUY HRHA (1916-2012) Etude d’Apres une Concubine de Mort Oil on canvas, 65 x 46cm (25½ x 18’’) Signed, inscribed and dated 1964 verso Provenance: With Gimpel Fils Gallery, label verso. € 40,000 - 60,000 The Concubine de Mort referred to in the title is an Egyptian limestone statuette, at the time in the collection of the Louvre. le Brocquy referred to the carving in several paintings. It’s true that the pale limestone and the spare elegance of the figure relate very well to his use of white and off-white, and his minimally descriptive though precise forms, but his paintings are not direct treatments of the sculptural source. What especially interests him is the distant evocation of a human presence. It’s notable that the Concubine is closely related to Study (134) (lot 86 in this sale). In Spain in the mid-1950s, he noticed one day some women and children standing against a white- washed wall. In the dazzling sunlight, they seemed to merge with and emerge from the radiant white- ness. This chance glimpse suggested to him a new way to paint the human figure, aiming for the living core rather than the outward appearance. As he explored these new possibilities, he realized that the approach better suited individual subjects than the family groups that had mostly interested him previously. Hence the series of Presences (incorporating groups of Being and Woman paintings) that occupied him for much of the following ten years, of which Etude d’Apres une Concubine de Mort and Study (134) are fine examples. All of the Presences are evocations of isolated, emergent human figures. Beyond the particular references, they are clearly universal. In time, the sources encompassed such ancient artefacts as the Concubine and the ancient Venus figures from Laussel and Willendorf. There were, though, more immediate, living inspirations, the most important of which was his partner, Anne Madden (they married and moved to France during this time). Anne underwent difficult spinal sur- gery because of legacy injuries sustained in a riding accident, with a long recuperation, and the motif of the spine and indeed of injury, and the concept of fragility, are at the heart of the Presence paint- ings (witness the flush of red evident in both these paintings). Le Brocquy preferred to work in series because he distrusted the notion of one, definitive view. For the same reason he often included the term “towards an image of ” in his titles, recognizing that one could only offer a partial account, and never pin down a subject completely. Born in Dublin in 1916, he was earmarked to go into the family oil refinery business established by his grandfather. But he did not warm to studying chemistry and, with his mother’s backing decided to pursue his interest in art. He learned by looking at and copying the great works in English and European galleries. Back in Dub- lin in 1940, he quickly established himself as one of the leading Irish modernist artists and remained so. He spent some years living and working in London and then France before eventually returning to settle in Dublin. The human figure, or more accurately the human being, was always at the core of his work and the strength and originality of his paintings earned him an international reputation. Aidan Dunne