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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

Browse the Collection

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  1. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- A Political Meeting (in the West Of Ireland)
  2. Marie Foley (b. 1959) - To Measure the Immeasurable
  3. Norah McGuinness (1903 - 1980) - Hanrahan’s Vision (Illustrations for The Stories of Red Hanrahan)
  4. Norah McGuinness - Les Bigoudenes
  5. Jack B. Yeats (1871 - 1957) - Singing The Minstrel Boy
  6. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- The Funeral of Harry Boland
  7. Jack B. Yeats - White Shower
  8. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- He wins
  9. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- The Strand Races, West Of Ireland
  10. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Self Portrait
  11. Maurice MacGonigal, PRHA (1900 - 1979)- Port Rachrainn
  12. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957) - An Island Man
  13. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Mountain window
  14. Estella Solomons - Woman in Riding Habit
  15. Sean Keating (1889-1977)- Old Kitty
  16. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Sailor home from the sea
  17. Patrick Hall - Angels Ascending and Descending with Heavenly Spectators
  18. atrick Hall - Jesus Walking on the Sea
  19. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- An Island Funeral
  20. Percy French (1854 - 1920) - A view of Sligo Quay
  21. Sean Keating (1889-1977)- Head of a Boy
  22. Sean Keating PRHA (1889 - 1979) - William and Mary
  23. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Johnny Paterson singing ’Bridget Donoghue’
  24. George William Russell (AE) (1867-1935) - Portrait of Mary Colum