Dimensions: 71 × 112cm
Collection: Niland Collection
Provenance: Purchased from Dawson Gallery by Sligo County Library and Museum in 1966
In 1903 Jack Yeats and wife, Cottie, were commissioned to design the sodality banners for new cathedral at Loughrea, Co. Galway. Designs for 29 banners were completed – one for each of the sodalities which met monthly in honour of the Sacred Heart. The banners were embroidered in wool and silk on linen at the Dun Emer industries by Lily Yeats and her assistants and now hang at Loughrea. The work was part of an ambitious programme for the design of the cathedral which was intended to present the best of modern Irish religious art and to evoke the spirit of Celtic craftsmanship and design. It was to provide a vital alternative to the mass-produced church monuments and furnishings which dominated Irish churches of the period.
In this banner, dedicated to the Sacred Heart, Christ stands with arms outstretched. The symbol of the Sacred Heart is emblazoned on his chest. The stigmata are evident on his feet and hands. In each corner of the design are symbols of the Passion – the chalice, the spear, the sponge and the whip. Yeats uses the device of entwined briars to frame the design, a reference to the Crown of Thorns. The simplicity of these symbols brings to mind late medieval Dominican and Franciscan iconography.
Written by Roisin Kennedy