Louis le Brocquy painting once owned by Bono up for auction

By Sarah Slater

A famous painting once owned by U2 frontman Bono is to be auctioned.

The work, depicting novelist and poet James Joyce by Irish artist Louis le Brocquy, is up for sale later this month.

The artist gifted the colourful watercolour to the singer in the early 1980s and Bono then gave the portrait as a wedding gift to a female friend living in Ireland.

The acclaimed portrait is to be sold at Whyte’s auction of Important Irish Art on May 28, with a guide price of between €20,000 and €30,000.

It is understood that the lady who is selling the art work firstly asked Bono for his permission to sell the painting, which he duly did.

This gave the auctioneers the opportunity to mention the story behind the sale now that it is being offered to the public.

Joyce was an Irish novelist, short story writer, and poet. He contributed to the modernist avant-garde and is regarded as one of the most influential and important authors of the 20th century.

Bloomsday, which is a day depicted in Joyce’s novel Ulysses is celebrated both in Dublin and around the world and takes place every year on June 18.

Ian Whyte, director of Whyte’s auction house in Dublin there is good interest already being shown in the painting.

“The work of Louis le Brocquy is gaining again in popularity. During the years of the recession the price for a piece of his work would have been lower than what it is now.

The guide price the painting is being sold for, at the end of the month, would have been twice that in the Celtic Tiger years of 2005 and 2006.

“Knowing the provenance of the painting or the story behind it coming to us to be sold adds to it’s notoriety.

“We would expect this work, in particular, to go for close to the higher estimate (of €30,000) as prices for his work are starting to creep up again.”

Le Brocquy is renowned for his use of watercolour and the bright colours of purple, blue and green.

Born in Dublin in 1916, Louis le Brocquy is see as a very important figure in the history of Irish painting. The self-taught artist became recognised both at home and internationally as the foremost Irish painter of the 20th century.

His work received much international attention and many accolades in a career that spanned 70 years. The Dublin born artist died in 2012 aged 96.

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