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Louis le Brocquy
Louis le Brocquy

Louis le Brocquy was born in Dublin, Ireland on November 10, 1916. His family had Belgian origins, but were firmly Irish. Louis’ family was involved in the oil business and this gave him financial security. He traveled widely and decided to become a painter. Le Brocquy did not attend art school-he was self-taught. He was married briefly before World War II to Jean Stoney. He taught in the Central School of Arts and Crafts (now the Central School of Art and Design) and the Royal College of Art, both in London. Le Brocquy met painter, Anne Madden in 1956 and they were soon married. They moved to France and lived there raising their two sons. Le Brocquy and his family moved to Dublin in 1996. LeBrocquy was best known as a painter and he developed a unique style of portraiture. Louis le Brocquy died on April 25, 2012 in Dublin.

Louis le Brocquy
The Tain

The Tain is an early Irish prose epic which describes the cattle raid of Cooley which was translated by Thomas Kinsella. The Tain is believed to have been orally preserved until it was actually written down. The Dolmen Press printed their edition on specially made paper from Swiftbrook Mills, County Dublin in 1969.

Louis le Brocquy
Le Brocquy brush drawings from The Tain

Louis le Brocquy
Le Brocquy brush drawings from The Tain

Liam Miller writes “The book had one hundred and thirty brush drawings by Louis le Brocquy as well as maps and reproductions of pages from the Irish manuscripts sources of the text.”

The Tain layout by Liam Miller
Liam Miller’s layout for The Tain

The brush drawings Miller mentions are enigmatic paintings that are so fluid, it takes the viewer some time before their eyes can translate them into figures.

Louis le Brocquy  correspondence
Correspondence from Le Brocquy to Liam Miller

Le Brocquy believed that “any graphic accompaniment to a story, which owes its existence to the memory and concern of a people over some twelve hundred years, should be as impersonal as possible; that graphic images should grow spontaneously and even physically from the matter of the printed text…” The Tain was co-published with Oxford University Press in 1974.

Le Brocquy published his Tain brush drawings on tapestries and gold and silver bowls after the project.

le brocquy Tain bowls
Brochure for the bowls bearing Le Brocquy’s Tain designs

Works consulted

  • Irish Times
  • Walters, Doris. Louis le Brocquy. Ward River Press: Dublin, 1981.
  • The Independent
  • Kinsella, Thomas tr. The Tain. Dolmen Press, Dublin (1969).