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Gerald Leslie Brockhurst

1890 - 1978

The West of Ireland by Gerald Leslie Brockhurst

The West of Ireland   1928

  Original etching.
Signed in pencil.
Ref: Wright 61 viii/viii; Fletcher 61
S 228 x 268 mm; P & I 123 x 146 mm
Original G.L.Brockhurst etching.

Excellent impression with beautiful clarity of line and outstanding tonal range. From the only edition of 111 signed proofs of the completed image. The plate for this etching is known to have been destroyed.

The most disturbing image of Brockhurst’s graphic oeuvre, The West of Ireland is imbued with an intuitive perception of the tragedy which was to surround its two young sitters. This penetrating double portrait shows two young sisters from Connemara, whose mother had already provided a subject for Brockhurst in his plate entitled A Ballynakill Woman (Wright 53). Their mother was a peasant regarding whom Harold Wright recorded a disturbing note: “Brockhurst told me that the two children were her illegitimate offspring. She was a very rough character and was said to have committed seven murders! I suppose this is all gospel truth? H.W.” (inscribed on an impression of her portrait in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford).

Whatever her past may have been, their mother discriminated cruelly between the two girls, isolating the younger girl on the right, whilst lavishing attention upon her sister. The poor dark-haired girl has had her fringe cut jaggedly by her mother in spite, and her clothes are drab, whilst her sister wears a pretty dress. Unable to bear this constant rejection, the younger girl threw herself into a lake and drowned.

This portrait stands out amongst Brockhurst’s etchings for the intensity with which it interprets the character of its subjects and their circumstances. The desolate beauty of the Irish countryside against which they are portrayed serves only to enhance the mood of this searching and poignant image.

On cream wove paper with full margins and deckle edge. Excellent original condition.