Lot 52
  • 52

LOUIS LE BROCQUY, H.R.H.A. | Study towards an Image of Seamus Heaney

12,000 - 18,000 GBP
12,500 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Louis le Brocquy
  • Study towards an Image of Seamus Heaney
  • signed and dated l.r.: LE BROCQUY 1982; also signed, titled, dated and numbered W 649 on the reverse
  • watercolour and crayon
  • 61 by 46cm., 24 by 18in.


Private collection, Ireland, since c.1990

Catalogue Note

Portraiture was to dominate a significant part of Louis le Brocquy’s artistic career. The 'Portrait Heads' series (1975–2005) came to be a distinctive period in his life with numerous oils and watercolours completed of literary figures and poets. This study depicts Seamus Heaney, one of the first he made of his friend between 1982 and 1998. Observing this watercolour and crayon closely shows a multitude of brilliant colours, heavily diluted. The colours subtly blend into the surface, making it difficult to define the form, however, the build-up of these irregular strokes reveals a different image once you stand back, and the features - particularly the eyes - of Heaney’s face become increasingly discernible, an aspect that dominates the majority of his portraits.

When approaching a painting, le Brocquy has said that for him, 'painting is not a means of communication or even self-expression, but rather a process of discovering, or uncovering.' (National Gallery of Ireland, Louis le Brocquy, Portrait Heads, 2006, p.67). Inspired by Heaney’s own poetry, le Brocquy reveals the personality and inner thoughts of the sitter. Seamus Heaney sums up the complete effect of the portraits: 'They take hold of the air, they probe it with a deep pure stare… They complete: they have come through.' (New York State Museum, Louis le Brocquy and the Celtic Head Image, 1981, p.39).