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Chez les Sinclair (c.1956)


Basil Rakoczi was born in England. His father was Hungarian and his mother Irish. Self-taught as a painter, he spent the 1930s moving between London and Paris with frequent visits to other European countries. As a result of his travels he gained a first-hand knowledge of Continental Surrealism at a time when it was virtually unknown in the British Isles. He spent the years of the Second World War living and working in Dublin and was perhaps the first painter to bring a knowledge of the latest avant-garde developments in painting to Irish art. After the War he settled in Paris, where he remained for the rest of his life. This composition was painted in Rakoczi's flat in Paris and depicts the artist's friend Morris Sinclair, a Dubliner, and Maurice Brasseur playing chess, while Sinclair's wife is seated at the piano. This picture, which is executed in a Cubist technique, is arguably one of the most striking and important Cubist pictures to have been painted by an artist with Irish connections.