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Louis Le Brocquy, H.R.H.A. (b. 1916)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED GERMAN COLLECTION
Louis Le Brocquy, H.R.H.A. (b. 1916)

Image of Samuel Beckett

Louis Le Brocquy, H.R.H.A. (b. 1916)
Image of Samuel Beckett
signed and dated 'LE BROCQUY 79' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
31¼ x 31¼ in. (79.2 x 79.2 cm.)
Purchased direct from the artist by the present owner in 1979.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
Sale room notice
Please note that Louis le Brocquy passed away in April 2012.

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André Zlattinger
André Zlattinger

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Lot Essay

The present work is one of a series of head portraits that Louis le Brocquy painted of his contemporary Samuel Beckett. Although the picture is dated 1979, le Brocquy began making studies for portraits of Beckett fourteen years earlier in 1965.

Since 1964, le Brocquy's work has principally been concerned with the Celtic concept of the human head. In Celtic tradition the head was seen as the seat of the soul and the source of spiritual potency. Le Brocquy built on this idea in his work, he began to utilise the head as an entity in its own right and as an image of human consciousness. Le Brocquy explains this in the following statement, 'like the Celts I tend to regard the head as this magic box containing the spirit. Enter that box (the head), enter behind the billowing curtain of the face, and you have the whole landscape of the spirit.' (See exhibition catalogue, Louis le Brocquy and the Celtic Head Image, New York State Museum, 1981, p. 23).

Le Brocquy is widely acclaimed for his evocative portrait heads of literary figures and fellow artists. His other personalities include William Butler Yeats, James Joyce (see lot 240), Francis Bacon and Seamus Heaney. Le Brocquy created multiple images of each as he felt that the immense intellects and personalities of his subjects could not be captured in a single work.

As in the present work, le Brocquy frequently uses flat whites in the backgrounds of his portraits. This creates a stillness and purity which contrasts starkly with the expressive heads of his subjects. In this picture Beckett's deeply set, piercing eyes stare out at us, almost frighteningly, from the built up chiaroscuro of his face.

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