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Jack B. Yeats (1871 - 1957) - Communicating with Prisoners

Communicating with Prisoners

Jack B. Yeats (1871 – 1957)

© Estate of Jack B Yeats. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2013

  • Artist
    Jack B. Yeats
  • Title
    Communicating with Prisoners
  • Date
    c. 1924
  • Dimensions
    59 × 44cm
  • Medium
    Oil on canvas
  • Collection
    Niland Collection
  • Provenance
    Purchased by public subscription from the Capuchin Annual in 1962
Description

This is one of Yeats’s most important depictions of life in Dublin in the early years of the Free State. A group of women call up to republican prisoners incarcerated in Kilmainham Jail. The latter, also women, have been interned by the Free State government for their involvement in the Civil War. They have broken the windows of the jail, through which one figure can be seen leaning out, to shout messages to their friends below. Yeats juxtaposes the sombre tower of the jail with a brightly coloured hoarding on which advertisements for bazaars and entertainments are pasted.

These contrasting forms convey the conflicting experiences of communication in Ireland in this period, one of censorship and control, the other of opportunity and apparent freedom of choice. The line of standing women makes a visual connection between the two horizontal elements of the tower and the hoarding. Their proximity to the posters and the variety of the women’s attire show that they are part of modern Ireland but their frustrated attempts to converse with the prisoners contradicts any notion of freedom. Hilary Pyle thinks that the work may have been painted from a photograph (1). It uses a stark composition in which the undulating outline of the women is mirrored by the blue silhouette of the houses in the distance behind them.

(1) Hilary Pyle, Jack B. Yeats. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings, London, 1992, I, no, 246, p.221.

Written by Roisin Kennedy

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  1. Marie Foley (b. 1959) - The Great Breath
  2. Sean McSweeney - The Road
  3. Louis le Brocquy - Study towards an Image of W.B. Yeats
  4. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957) - An Island Man
  5. Louis le Brocquy - The Táin - Mare and Foals
  6. Patrick Scott (b. 1921) - Bog Sun (16)
  7. Louis le Brocquy - Hell Fire Club from Tibradden
  8. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Simon the Cyrenian
  9. Nick Miller - John McGahern
  10. Estella Solomons - Portrait of a Woman
  11. Louis le Brocquy - The Táin - Cúchulainn mounting into his chariot
  12. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Portrait of Susan Mary (Lily) Yeats as a child
  13. Sean Keating PRHA (1889 - 1979) - William and Mary
  14. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Portrait Figure of an Irish Gentleman
  15. Norah McGuinness - Les Bigoudenes
  16. Estella Solomons - Portrait of Jack B. Yeats
  17. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- The Funeral of Harry Boland
  18. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)-A Western Town, Night
  19. George William Russell(AE) (1867-1935) - Landscape with Woman and Children
  20. Sean Keating PRHA (1889 - 1979) - Self Portrait
  21. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- The Bay Pilot, The River Pilot, The Stevedore, The Ganger and the Gang
  22. George William Russell (AE) (1867-1935) - Shining Shallows
  23. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- He wins
  24. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Shruna Meala, Rosses Point