Tinkers: Louis le Brocquoy 1916-2012

Le Brocquy, Louis (1916- ) – 1946 Sick Tinker Child (Private Collection)

Irish painter and decorative artist. [His sister, Melanie le Brocquy (b 1919), was a distinguished sculptor]. In 1934 he joined the family business and studied chemistry at Trinity College and teaching himself to paint. He first exhibited at the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1937 and from 1938 spent two years studying Old Master paintings at the National Gallery, London, the Louvre, the Prado, and in Venice and Geneva.

I think expressions in “The Tinkers” painting are so surreal. They bring across true life-like images of them, especially of times when one sees them gathering in groups at the annual Ballinasloe Horse Fair. The distinct appearances of the one on the left is particularly identical to those seen on Travellers’ faces. They have very unique Irish features – which I know they’re very proud. I’m not at one, though, with paintings being called The Tinkers. They are now referred to as Travellers. However, this painting is from an earlier series that focused on the Travellers that Le Brocquy so admired, mostly because of their independence inspired by the human condition they evoked.


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