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Louis le Brocquy: Farewell to a most beautiful man

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Louis Le Brocquy, with his wife Anne Madden and son Pierre

Louis Le Brocquy, with his wife Anne Madden and son Pierre

Bono admiring his 2003
portrait

Bono admiring his 2003 portrait

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Louis Le Brocquy, with his wife Anne Madden and son Pierre

TRIBUTES have poured in for one of Ireland's "most important artists" Louis le Brocquy, who has died at the age of 95.

The painter, best known for his portraits of great literary figures and fellow artists, died at home in Dublin with his wife, Anne Madden, at his side.

The father of two, who boasted a prolific seven-decade career as one of Ireland's most influential artists, had been ill for a year.

President Michael D Higgins yesterday led the many tributes to the celebrated, self-taught painter.

"Today, I lament the loss of a great artist and wonderful human being whose works are amongst this country's most valuable cultural assets and are cherished by us all. Louis leaves to humanity a truly great legacy," Mr Higgins said.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny described him as the "greatest artist of his generation".

"Louis's art had a very broad appeal and was admired not only across the world but by people of all ages and will stand as a lasting legacy to his outstanding artistic prowess," Mr Kenny said.

Prominent

Louis le Brocquy's work received an enormous amount of international attention and accolades over the past 70 years.

Born in Dublin in 1916, he left Ireland in 1938 to study the major European art collections in London, Paris, Venice and Geneva.

In 1940 Mr Le Brocquy became a founding member of the Irish Exhibition of Living Art in Dublin, which established an effective forum for contemporary art in Dublin in 1943.

He moved to London in 1946 and became prominent in the contemporary art scene before winning a major prize at the Venice Biennale in 1956, representing Ireland.

In 1958, he married Irish painter Anne Madden and left London to work in France.

He was widely acclaimed for his evocative heads of literary figures and fellow artists, including W B Yeats, James Joyce and his friends Samuel Beckett, Francis Bacon, Seamus Heaney and Bono.

Dublin's Gate Theatre artistic director Michael Colgan, who knew the artist, described him as a "most beautiful man, with gentleness for life and a passion for art".

In Ireland, Mr Le Brocquy was honoured as the first living painter to be included in the permanent Irish collection of the National Gallery for his painting 'A Family' (1951).

Its acquisition for €2.75m underlined the late artist's importance in the pantheon of art, and set a new record valuation for a living Irish artist at the time.

Mr le Brocquy's works hang in some of the world's leading art galleries

Auctioneers Adams said there had been a noticeable surge of interest in Mr le Brocquy's pieces five years ago, when his 90th birthday drew major media coverage.

However, the auction house does not expect a flood of his works on to the market as a result of his death.

The last le Brocquy work sold by the auctioneer was in March -- a watercolour, which was estimated at €15,000 to €20,000 but it sold for €28,000.

The National Gallery of Ireland described the artist as a "towering figure in Irish art".

Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan also expressed his deep sadness at Mr le Brocquy's death yesterday.

"Louis was the first truly internationally successful Irish modernist," he said.

"His widely acclaimed heads of literary figures and fellow artists will forever lend indelibility to his legacy and durability to his unique signature."

Meanwhile, Arts Council chairman Pat Moylan, said he was one "of the most important visual artists that Ireland has produced".

Irish Independent