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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 Susan Mary (Lily) Yeats
  2. Jack B. Yeats (1871 - 1957) - Singing The Minstrel Boy
  3. Louis le Brocquy - The Táin - Cúchulainn mounting into his chariot
  4. Louis le Brocquy - The Táin - Mare and Foals
  5. Maurice MacGonigal, PRHA (1900 - 1979)- Port Rachrainn
  6. Sean Keating PRHA (1889 - 1979) - Turf-Gatherer
  7. George William Russell (AE) (1867-1935) - Portrait of Kitsy Franklin
  8. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- The Sea and the Lighthouse
  9. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Sailor home from the sea
  10. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Simon the Cyrenian
  11. Patrick Hall - Angels Ascending and Descending with Heavenly Spectators
  12. Sean Keating PRHA (1889 - 1979) - Self Portrait
  13. Jack B. Yeats (1871 - 1957) - The Stargazer
  14. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Market Day
  15. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)-Singing “The beautiful Picture“
  16. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Mountain window
  17. Nick Miller - John McGahern
  18. Louis le Brocquy - The Táin - Lion
  19. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Portrait of John O’Leary
  20. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957) - An Island Man
  21. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Fortune and her wheel
  22. Marie Foley (b. 1959) - Portrait
  23. Norah McGuinness - Les Bigoudenes
  24. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- An Island Funeral