Hell Fire Club from Tibradden by Louis le Brocquy (1916 – 2012)

The Hell Fire Club from Tibradden

Date: 1946
Dimensions: 24.25 × 17.25cm
Medium: Watercolour on paper
Collection: Niland Collection
Provenance: Josephine C. Healy Collection, donated by James A. Healy to Sligo Corporation in 1975


This early watercolour shows a view of the hill of Mountpellier, seen from Tibradden in south county Dublin.

Visible on the summit are the large ruins of the Hell Fire Club, an 18th century sporting lodge, which subsequently developed a notorious reputation for gambling and carousing.

Painted just after the Second World War, when le Brocquy was about to embark on a career in London, the painting reveals his knowledge of contemporary British art. The dark tones most evident in the foreground and the subject matter are influenced by the neo-romanticist movement. A number of artists associated with this style, most notably John Piper, exhibited in Dublin during the war.

The isolation of these years when continental Europe was inaccessible encouraged more modernist artists like le Brocquy to find their subjects within Ireland. Here the artist presents the landscape in terms of simple geometric forms which ultimately derive from cubism.

The low viewpoint accentuates the large scale of the mountain and the dark ambiguous forms of the trees transform the landscape into something strange and unfamiliar.

Written by Roisin Kennedy


About the Artist

Louis le Brocquy (1916 – 2012)

Born 1916, Dublin , Ireland. Died 2012, Dublin, Ireland. le Brocquy initially studied chemistry at Trinity, but his art soon took precedence and he left Ireland, travelling through Europe visiting major art museums to educate himself, since then he continued to live primarily outside Ireland, most notably in France. His early paintings reflect his travels in Europe and his art experiences there, as he draws influences from artists such as Edward Manet, James McNeill Whistler, and Edgar Degas. As his work progressed le Brocquy became more aware of the surreal nature of the work. Once produced, the Royal Academy were unwilling to show it, and so along with some contemporaries such as Mainie Jellet and Evie Hone, he helped in the founding of The Irish Exhibition of Living Art, a venue to exhibit contemporary art in Ireland, and a means to draw more attention to contemporary art in general. For much of his life he was preoccupied with the theme of the isolation of the individual, which led to a period in 1945 where he concentrated on the Travelling People of Ireland. As le Brocquy never had any formal training he too felt like the outsider and felt a connection with this specific theme.

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