A Family, 1951

Louis le Brocquy, 'A Family', 1951

Louis le Brocquy (Irish, 1916-2012)

A Family, 1951

Oil on canvas, 147 x 185 cm
Heritage Gift, Lochlann and Brenda Quinn, 2002

A Family is a key work in the development of the artist's career and signals his early creativity in relation to theme and style. It is one of a series of family paintings marking a change in Le Brocquy's palette from the comparatively colourful work of the 1940s to predominantly greys, black and white- later referred to as his Grey Period. The human presence continues to be depicted but the images have become starker than in the earlier work. According to the artist, the painting was conceived in 1950 in the face of the atomic threat, social upheaval and refugees of World War II and its aftermath. Le Brocquy said 'it was painted while contemplating a human condition stripped back to paleolithic circumstance under the electric light bulbs'. The painting won the Prealpina Prize at the Venice Biennale in 1956. The composition owes much to Cubism in its shallow treatment of space, the limited palette and the simplified forms.

Further Resources


In the media Researching Louis le Brocquy at the National Gallery of Ireland