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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) - The Stargazer
  2. Patrick Hall - Angels Ascending and Descending with Heavenly Spectators
  3. Louis le Brocquy - Hell Fire Club from Tibradden
  4. Norah McGuinness (1903 - 1980) - Hanrahan’s Vision (Illustrations for The Stories of Red Hanrahan)
  5. Patrick Hall - Jesus Walking on the Sea
  6. Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904) - Wood Nymph
  7. Norah McGuinness - Tide Receding, Dublin Bay
  8. Sean Keating PRHA (1889 - 1979) - Self Portrait
  9. Louis le Brocquy - The Táin - Cúchulainn mounting into his chariot
  10. Kathy Prendergast (b.1958) - Untitled
  11. George William Russell (AE) (1867-1935)- Landscape with Picnic Scene
  12. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Market Day
  13. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Shruna Meala, Rosses Point
  14. Sean Keating (1889-1977)- Head of a Boy
  15. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Sailor home from the sea
  16. Maurice MacGonigal, PRHA (1900 - 1979)- Port Rachrainn
  17. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- The Sea and the Lighthouse
  18. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- A Sunday Morning in Sligo
  19. Nick Miller - John McGahern
  20. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Portrait Figure of an Irish Gentleman
  21. Jack B. Yeats (1871 - 1957) - The Toy Theatre
  22. Nick Miller - Portrait of Barrie Cooke
  23. Marie Foley (b. 1959) - Portrait
  24. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- The Funeral of Harry Boland