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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. Estella Solomons - Portrait of Sean Milroy
  2. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)-G’Morrow Strawberry
  3. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Portrait of John O’Leary
  4. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Johnny Paterson singing ’Bridget Donoghue’
  5. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- The Bay Pilot, The River Pilot, The Stevedore, The Ganger and the Gang
  6. Marie Foley (b. 1959) - Portrait
  7. Maurice MacGonigal, PRHA (1900 - 1979)- Port Rachrainn
  8. Norah McGuinness - Les Bigoudenes
  9. Marie Foley (b. 1959) - The Great Breath
  10. Jack B. Yeats (1871 - 1957) - The Stargazer
  11. Louis le Brocquy - Hell Fire Club from Tibradden
  12. Constance Gore-Booth (1868-1927) - Untitled
  13. Jack B. Yeats (1871 - 1957) - Singing The Minstrel Boy
  14. James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) - Maunder’s Fishshop, Chelsea
  15. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- The Funeral of Harry Boland
  16. Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904) - Wood Nymph
  17. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Portrait of Susan Mitchell
  18. Nick Miller - John McGahern
  19. Maurice MacGonigal, PRHA (1900 - 1979) - The Gathering
  20. Marie Foley (b. 1959) - To Measure the Immeasurable
  21. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- The Metal Man
  22. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Portrait of Douglas Hyde
  23. Jack B. Yeats - Crest of the Hill
  24. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- The Sea and the Lighthouse