A Century of Giving
Christopher Le Brun
The Eye's Castle
oil on canvas, 270 x 255 cm
The Fitzwilliam Museum: PD.45-2007
The Eye's Castle, by Christopher Le Brun, was bought in 2007 by the Friends to commemorate Duncan Robinson's retirement as Director. This grand scale oil painting (106 x101 ins., 270 x 255cm) is a significant addition to the contemporary English art in the collection.
Christopher Le Brun (b. 1951) studied at the Slade and Chelsea School of Art in the 1970s. In 2000, he became the Royal Academy's first Professor of Drawing. His inspiration stems from a love of poetry and ancient legend, and the landscapes of painters such as Turner, Claude and Poussin.
In this solemn, dreamlike landscape, dominated by a white castle, the lone figure of a knight on a white horse emerges from the water. The atmosphere is one of mystery and shadow. Reflections create a shimmering, moonlit effect - almost like a ghostly visitation, or mirage.
Le Brun has described his art as -
"tacking a course between abstraction and figuration, with alternating emphasis ... I get a whisper, catch a hem of something, and try and follow it. So that the subject is little more than an apprehension, a feeling, a generation of something essentially internal."
The painting's title relates to the phrase - 'memory is the eye's castle' - used by Le Brun in an essay about the painter Giorgio Morandi. It suggests that it should not be seen simply as a representation of a knight and a castle, but, on a deeper level, concerns the relationship between seeing and memory, noticing and thinking.
In 2005, the Friends also gave the Museum a portfolio of fifty etchings by Le Brun - a series of haunting prints which share the imagery and themes, developed in his paintings and sculptures, of a personal quest in search of meaning and beauty.