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Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Johnny Paterson singing ’Bridget Donoghue’

Johnny Patterson singing 'Bridget Donoghue' (The Singing Clown)

Jack B. Yeats (1871 – 1957)

© Estate of Jack B Yeats. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2013

  • Artist
    Jack B. Yeats
  • Title
    Johnny Patterson singing 'Bridget Donoghue' (The Singing Clown)
  • Date
    1928
  • Dimensions
    59 × 45cm
  • Medium
    Oil on canvas
  • Collection
    Niland Collection
  • Provenance
    Presented by James A. Healy in New York to Sligo County Library and Museum. In memory of his parents, John and Catherine Healy in 1966.
Description

The clown was a figure of unending fascination for Yeats who, like other modernist artists, saw parallels between his role as an artist and that of the clown within the circus. This painting depicts a specific historical figure, the legendary Johnny Patterson (1840-89). Yeats saw him perform in Sligo as a child and he appears in a number of his later oil paintings. An acrobat and circus performer, Patterson went to New York in 1879 where he met with great success. After his return to Ireland he set up his own circus company, Patterson’s Great United States Circus. His writing and performing of his own songs, such as Bridget Donoghue, earned him the title of the Singing Clown. Patterson died tragically as a result of injuries sustained by an attack in the circus ring when members of the crowd reacted violently to his rendition of a political song.

Patterson is shown singing to a crowd in a circus tent. Beside him stand enthusiastic members of the audience who have come down from their seats to join him in the ring. Patterson is set apart from them by his elevated position and by his clown’s make-up and elaborate costume which was embroidered with shamrocks and Celtic harps.

Written by Roisin Kennedy

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  1. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- The Funeral of Harry Boland
  2. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957) - An Island Man
  3. Sean Keating (1889-1977)- Head of a Boy
  4. Constance Gore-Booth (1868-1927) - Untitled
  5. Jack B. Yeats - White Shower
  6. Louis le Brocquy - The Táin - Mare and Foals
  7. Jack B. Yeats (1871 - 1957) - Singing The Minstrel Boy
  8. George William Russell(AE) (1867-1935) - The Sower
  9. Estella Solomons - Portrait of a Woman
  10. Percy French (1854 - 1920) - A view of Sligo Quay
  11. Marie Foley (b. 1959) - Portrait
  12. George William Russell (AE) (1867-1935) - Portrait of Kitsy Franklin
  13. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Portrait of Jennie Mitchell
  14. Norah McGuinness - Les Bigoudenes
  15. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Fortune and her wheel
  16. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- An Island Funeral
  17. Artist Unknown - Portrait of a Girl
  18. Norah McGuinness - Tide Receding, Dublin Bay
  19. Constance Gore-Booth (1868 - 1927) - Untitled (Holloway Jail)
  20. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Sailor home from the sea
  21. George William Russell (AE) (1867-1935)- Landscape with Picnic Scene
  22. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Leaving the Far Point
  23. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Portrait of Douglas Hyde
  24. Patrick Hall - Angels Ascending and Descending with Heavenly Spectators