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1947. London

Sets up improvised studio, bed-sitter, York Street, Marylebone, London (November 1946). The artist recalls: 'It was a fierce winter made worse by post-war rationing, my gas fire being turned off automatically at intervals. Without adequate daylight or heat I painted in an overcoat and fingerless woollen gloves by electric light into the night.'70 Meets Jankel Adler (1895-1949), who's post-cubist work impresses le Brocquy. Embarks on Tinker Woman with Newspaper (a.k.a. The Last Tinker, 1947-48), portraying the matriarch of a clan defiantly clutching the crumpled sheets of an alien world in newsprint: 'I still remember sketching her - as casually as I could - remote and uncompromising as she was, within the depths of her nature.'71 Le Brocquy strives to put Byzantine rigour into his work, in its two dimensional force of confrontation: 'Cézanne demonstrated in his late works what had been sensed by Manet, in his symphonic series of paintings from Lola de Valence to Le Balcon. Matter, the painter's reference and subject, ceased to be expressed objectively as a self-evident solidity, and was now interpreted as the manifestation of a mysterious inner movement. The amorphous became crystalline, the opaque transparent, the static kinetic ... At the end of the long avenue of perspective we have reached conviction in surface: surface again may be exploited to state the conceptual, the metaphysical reality of matter; matter seen as it were from inside out. Today we peer forward in a fundamentally altered landscape. Glancing backwards from our new position, Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic forms gain new reality for us.'72 Moves studio to Clarewood Court, Crawford Street (February 1947), completes Tinker Woman with Newspaper. Widely acknowledged as the artist's 'Tinker period' masterpiece, the picture will reputedly be seen by Willem de Kooning at the Stedelïjk Museum, Amsterdam in Twelve Contemporary British Painters (British Council touring exhibition, 1948-49), prompting commentators - including Dorothy Walker in her monograph on le Brocquy - to speculate on the degree of influence it may have exercised on the American abstract expressionist's own paintings of women. At once accepted and successful in the context of London's contemporary art scene, le Brocquy joins Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth, Peter Lanyon, Lynn Chadwick, among the Gimpel Fils gallery stable. According to Dorothy Walker: 'Charles Gimpel, from then until his comparatively early death, was a whole-hearted supporter and promoter of le Brocquy and his work, the genuine patron-friend that the exemplary gallery dealer can be for the artist.'73 Exhibition at Gimpel Fils, Duke Street (May 1947): Watercolours, including Study, In Fear of Cain (1947), Tinkers with Children (1947), Tinker Breaks Whitethorn (1947). The Times writes: 'His present exhibition confirms one's first impression of an artist with a new eye, a personal vision which makes itself felt even when he climbs most obstinately to conventional forms derived from abstract painting; his feeling for character is well developed and he can observe children in Regent's park, in one of his most recent works, as sharply as the more romantic tinkers of Ireland. His use of the medium, whether water-colour or oil, is both skilful and refined, and he has a delicate sense of colour.'74 Assessing the period, Maurice Collis writes in Penguin Parade: 'He experienced in reality the dream of every young painter - to show and to be immediately acclaimed with enthusiasm. The half-dozen pictures hung at the Leicester Galleries were sold along with some others hastily sent to reinforce them; among the purchasers was the the Contemporary Art Society, an organisation that buys with a view to presentation to the Tate ... Later in 1946 he showed more pictures in the same gallery, on this occasion along with other Irish painters. Again the response of the public was instantaneous; the critics, too, for the first time took serious notice of him. His right course now was to have a one-man show as soon as possible. This was achieved in the spring of 1947, when some forty of his works were hung at the Gimpel Fils Gallery and nearly sold out.'75 Work included in Contemporary Irish Painting, Associated American Artist's Galleries, New York (March 1947), Time Magazine observes: "Best of the lot was a Dubliner ... Louis le Brocquy (rhythms with rocky), is only 29. His watercolours were roughly rubbed with wax and scarred with nervous jabs and dashes of indian ink ... One le Brocquy painting of a little girl bathing in a canal [Child bather Grand Canal, 1945] spoke of children everywhere.'76 Viewed as one of the foremost young talents in Britain, and included in Artists of Fame and Promise, Leicester Galleries, London (October 1947), Macdonald Hastings writes in London Calling: 'And London has discovered another startling new artist very recently - Louis le Brocquy. I do not know whether it is quite fair to claim him for London. Le Brocquy has come from Dublin, but he is very much under the influence of the contemporary London school. And it is to London he has come to seek fame and fortune. You could never mistake a true le Brocquy. An Irish green is almost always the predominant colour; green and red, under a sensitive tracery of black ink, in a style which, for lack of a better word, I can only describe as "cubist". But le Brocquy is not a cubist. He is not a Picasso. He is not a Henry Moore. His work is something quite individual.'77 Appointed Visiting Instructor, Painting & Mural Design, Central School of Arts & Crafts, London (1947-54, meets fellow tutors Mervyn Peake, Edouardo Paolozzi and Patrick Heron. Develops innovative techniques in mural design, including The Enchantment of Merlin, low cost mosaic commissioned by architects Yorke, Rosenberg & Mardall, entrance-lobby canopy, College of Further Education, Merthyr Tydvil, Wales (1954), and Newgrange, marble plaster painted charcoal grey, engraved by the artist with an electric drill, Tulse Hill Comprehensive School, London (1954). Experiments with ceramics, etching and lithography, including View at Lucan (1949; hand coloured lithograph, ed. 25), Child with Doll (1949: Lithograph, ed. 20), Self Portrait (1949; lithograph, ed. 75), First Tooth (1952, painted ceramic plate), Child with Moon (1953; etching/aquatint, ed. 25), Child in a Spring Field (1954; etching, ed. 25), Girl Child (1954; Lithograph, ed. 25).


70 Louis le Brocquy notes, Louis le Brocquy, The Inner Human Reality, Film documentary directed by Joe Mulholland, RTE 1, Arts Lives, 21 February 2006, 22.15pm.
71 Statement made to the editor, February 2005.
72 Louis le Brocquy, 'Thoughts on our Time and Jean Lurçat', Ark 17 (London: Royal College of Art, 1956). Reproduced in exhibition catalogue Louis le Brocquy, Seven Tapestries 1948-1955 (Dublin: Dawson Gallery; Beffast: Ulster Museum 1967) and Louis le Brocquy, Aubusson Tapestries (Dublin: Taylor Galleries, November 1999; Agnew's, London, May, 2001).
73 Dorothy Walker, Louis le Brocquy (Dublin: Ward River Press 1981; London: Hodder & Stoughton 1982), p. 24.
74 The Times, 'Mr. Louis le Brocquy's water=colours' (London, May, 1947).
75 Maurice Collis 'Louis le Brocquy', Penguin Parade, Second Series, Number II (Middlesex: Penguin Books 1948), p. 52.
76 Time Magazine, 'Home-Brew', Vol. XLIX No. 10 (New York, March 10, 1947).
77 Macdonald Hastings, 'Renaissance Of Art In Britain', London Calling (London, June 19, 1947).





Tinker Woman with Newspaper, 1947-48
(a.k.a The Last Tinker)
oil on gesso-primed hardboard, 127 x 89 cm








Study for Tinker Woman with Newspaper, 1947
pen, ink, watercolour, gouache on paper
17.8 x 12.4 cm