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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)- Simon the Cyrenian
  2. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Market Day
  3. Maurice MacGonigal, PRHA (1900 - 1979)- Port Rachrainn
  4. James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) - Maunder’s Fishshop, Chelsea
  5. Jack B. Yeats - White Shower
  6. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- The Car is at the door
  7. Patrick Scott (b. 1921) - Bog Sun (16)
  8. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- A Sunday Morning in Sligo
  9. Norah McGuinness - Tide Receding, Dublin Bay
  10. Marie Foley (b. 1959) - To Measure the Immeasurable
  11. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Portrait of Susan Mary (Lily) Yeats as a child
  12. Jack B. Yeats - Crest of the Hill
  13. Kathy Prendergast (b.1958) - Untitled
  14. Estella Solomons - Woman in Riding Habit
  15. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Mountain window
  16. Sir William Orpen RHA, RA AWS (1878-1931) - Portrait of Michael Davitt
  17. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)-Singing “The beautiful Picture“
  18. Marie Foley (b. 1959) - The Great Breath
  19. Maurice MacGonigal, PRHA (1900 - 1979) - Country Scene
  20. Jack B. Yeats (1871 - 1957) - The Toy Theatre
  21. Patrick Hall - Angels Ascending and Descending with Heavenly Spectators
  22. George William Russell (AE) (1867-1935) - Shining Shallows
  23. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957) - An Island Man
  24. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Portrait of Augusta Gregory