Dimensions: 35.5 × 25.25cm
Provenance: Purchased by public subscription from the Capuchin Annual, 1962
Fair days and market days fascinated Jack Yeats whose sketchbooks record the strange sights and characters to be seen at such events. This early watercolour features a stall in a country Irish town. In the background the quiet sunlit street is temporarily transformed by galloping horses ridden by farmers determined to get their business done and return to their work. The foreground is dominated by the covered stall, tended by a young woman in a large brimmed hat who patiently observes the goods. The latter is a remarkably eclectic collection of items which indicates both the comparative simplicity of the times and some of the main concerns of the population. Religious magazines, the linnet songbook and the book of fate make up the reading matter, while apples and jars of sweets provide edible treats. Among the other items a pipe and packets of tobacco are identifiable.
This very ordinary subject is transformed by the unusual viewpoint taken by Yeats which is really that of a potential customer standing beneath the strong blue canopy. The intense sunshine beams down on this structure and sends a strong blue tinge over the brim of the stall holder’s hat, casting her features in a strange blue shadow. The pole supporting the canopy divides the composition dramatically into two uneven parts.
Written by Roisin Kennedy