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John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Self Portrait

Self Portrait

John Butler Yeats (1839 – 1922)

  • Artist
    John Butler Yeats
  • Title
    Self Portrait
  • Date
    1916
  • Dimensions
    26 × 35cm
  • Medium
    Oil on board
  • Collection
    Niland Collection
  • Provenance
    Presented by James A Healy in 1965 (John & Catherine Healy Memorial Collection)
Description

This small oil painting is a preparatory work for John Butler Yeats’s Self-Portrait which he worked on for the last eleven years of his life. It relates to the later and larger Self-Portrait in the Yeats family collection and another version in the National Gallery of Ireland collection, both of which were found in the artist’s studio at the time of his death in 1922. A pencil study for these final oil versions of the Self-Portrait is also in the Niland Collection.

John Butler Yeats travelled with his daughter Lily to New York in 1907 ostensibly for a short visit. After several months Lily returned to Ireland without her father who remained in New York for the rest of his life. Without any regular income the elderly Yeats led a precarious existence and relied on the support and friendship of his admirers in America. John Quinn, the Irish-American lawyer and collector, was undoubtedly the most significant of these. In 1911 he commissioned a Self-Portrait from John B. Yeats and the artist threw himself into the project producing several drawings and oils over the following years.

While the final versions show the artist at his easel in his room at the Petitpas boarding house, this head and shoulders portrait is quite different. Its dramatic composition consists of four quadrants with the head of the artist a fifth and central element. The strong yellow and greens of the upper left section are echoed in the light filled features of the artist who looks directly out of the painting. The gold pin of his necktie breaks up the intense black of the lower half of the composition. The almost abstract qualities of the design reflect Yeats’s exposure to modernist art in New York where he visited the Armory Show in 1913.

Written by Roisin Kennedy

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  1. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957) - An Island Man
  2. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Shruna Meala, Rosses Point
  3. Maurice MacGonigal, PRHA (1900 - 1979)- Port Rachrainn
  4. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Cartoon for Figure of Christ
  5. Patrick Hall - Jesus Walking on the Sea
  6. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Portrait of Jennie Mitchell
  7. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Portrait of Augusta Gregory
  8. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- The Sea and the Lighthouse
  9. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Fortune and her wheel
  10. James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) - Maunder’s Fishshop, Chelsea
  11. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Simon the Cyrenian
  12. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- A Sunday Morning in Sligo
  13. George William Russell (AE) (1867-1935) - Shining Shallows
  14. Constance Gore-Booth (1868-1927) - Untitled
  15. Sean Keating (1889-1977)- Old Kitty
  16. Patrick Hall - Angels Ascending and Descending with Heavenly Spectators
  17. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)-A Western Town, Night
  18. George William Russell(AE) (1867-1935) - Landscape with Woman and Children
  19. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Untitled, the interior of a shop
  20. Jack B. Yeats (1871 - 1957) - The Stargazer
  21. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Mountain window
  22. George William Russell (AE) (1867-1935) - Portrait of Mary Colum
  23. Percy French (1854 - 1920) - A view of Sligo Quay
  24. Jack B. Yeats (1871 - 1957) - Singing The Minstrel Boy