Details & Cataloguing

Irish Art


Louis le Brocquy, H.R.H.A.
signed and dated l.l.: LE BROCQUY 68; titled, inscribed with dimensions and numbered 214 on the reverse; further signed, titled and dated on the stretcher
oil on canvas
73 by 73cm., 28¾ by 28¾in.
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Gimpel Fils, London;
Sotheby's, London, 22 May 1997, lot 369, where purchased by the present owner 


London, Gimpel Fils and Zurich, Gimpel & Hanover Galerie, Louis le Brocquy, 1968-69, no.26;
New York State Museum, Boston College, Massachusetts and Westfield College, Louis le Brocquy and the Celtic Head Images, 1981, no.17;
Dublin, Kerlin Gallery, Louis le Brocquy - Paintings 1940-1990, 1991;
Dublin, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Louis le Brocquy - Paintings 1939-1996, 1996, no.48 (illustrated)

Catalogue Note

The artist began painting his Ancestral Heads in 1964, inspired by Polynesian decorative skulls in the Musée de l’Homme, Paris as well as the traditional Celtic veneration of the head. These works mark a vital new direction for Le Brocquy and their creation was preceded by his destruction of the entire output of the previous year.

In the catalogue of the 1996 Dublin exhibition (ed. Brenda McParland, Sarah Glennie and Róisín Kennedy) it is noted that the present work is unusual in that it presents the head simultaneously full-face and in profile. Although these works were not painted with particular models in mind, unlike the later portraits, possible sources for this may be the Celto-Lingurian two-faced Hermes at Rocquepertuse, in southern France, which he visited in 1965 or the three-faced Corlech head, from Co. Cavan (coll. National Museum of Ireland, Dublin).  

Irish Art