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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. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Portrait of John O’Leary
  2. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)-G’Morrow Strawberry
  3. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)-Singing “The beautiful Picture“
  4. Norah McGuinness - Tide Receding, Dublin Bay
  5. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Shruna Meala, Rosses Point
  6. Artist Unknown - Portrait of a Girl
  7. Maurice MacGonigal, PRHA (1900 - 1979) - The Gathering
  8. George William Russell (AE) (1867-1935) - Portrait of Mary Colum
  9. Nick Miller - Portrait of Barrie Cooke
  10. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Johnny Paterson singing ’Bridget Donoghue’
  11. George William Russell(AE) (1867-1935) - The Sower
  12. Norah McGuinness (1903 - 1980) - Hanrahan’s Vision (Illustrations for The Stories of Red Hanrahan)
  13. Sean Keating (1889-1977)- Head of a Boy
  14. Kathy Prendergast (b.1958) - Untitled
  15. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- A Political Meeting (in the West Of Ireland)
  16. James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) - Maunder’s Fishshop, Chelsea
  17. Jack B. Yeats (1871 - 1957) - Singing The Minstrel Boy
  18. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Cartoon for Figure of Christ
  19. Percy French (1854 - 1920) - A view of Sligo Quay
  20. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- An Island Funeral
  21. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)-A Western Town, Night
  22. Jack B. Yeats (1871 - 1957) - The Toy Theatre
  23. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Fortune and her wheel
  24. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Portrait of Augusta Gregory