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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. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957) - An Island Man
  2. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)-Red Hanrahan’s Vision
  3. Patrick Hall - Angels Ascending and Descending with Heavenly Spectators
  4. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Shruna Meala, Rosses Point
  5. Nick Miller - Portrait of Barrie Cooke
  6. Marie Foley (b. 1959) - Portrait
  7. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Market Day
  8. Jack B. Yeats - White Shower
  9. Maurice MacGonigal, PRHA (1900 - 1979)- Port Rachrainn
  10. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- An Island Funeral
  11. Sean Keating (1889-1977)- Old Kitty
  12. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Mountain window
  13. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Leaving the Far Point
  14. Norah McGuinness - Tide Receding, Dublin Bay
  15. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Portrait of Douglas Hyde
  16. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- He wins
  17. Sean Keating (1889-1977)- Head of a Boy
  18. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- The Sea and the Lighthouse
  19. Marie Foley (b. 1959) - To Measure the Immeasurable
  20. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- The Funeral of Harry Boland
  21. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- The Car is at the door
  22. Kathy Prendergast (b.1958) - Untitled
  23. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Untitled, the interior of a shop
  24. Louis le Brocquy - Hell Fire Club from Tibradden