The present work belongs to le Brocquy's seminal portrait series concerned with revealing the inner spirit of prominent literary figures. le Brocquy produced around 120 studies of Joyce and these two portraits show different stages in the artist’s almost obsessive fascination with the novelist. He had meticulously studied Joyce's writings and photographed his bronze death mask in an attempt to aptly capture his subject. Using a synthesis of warm and cool tones, applied with sensitive handling of feathered brushstrokes, le Brocquy uniquely invokes the spirit of the writer.
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