Date: c. 1905
Dimensions: 29 × 23.5cm
Medium: Pen and ink
Collection: Niland Collection
Provenance: Purchased from the Dawson Gallery in 1970
Jack B. Yeats recognized the central role of the shop in Irish country life. His 1912 book Life in the West of Ireland featured an illustration entitled, The Country Shop, showing a rather formidable shopkeeper, Mrs. Jordan going over the accounts with a customer in the interior of a shop. This was based on a sketch made in Belmullet, Co. Mayo in 1905 when Yeats traveled through the West with J.M. Synge.
Interior of a Shop dates to the same period. It may have been intended to illustrate Synge’s articles on the Congested Districts Board which were published in the Manchester Guardian in 1905 (1). One of remedies promoted by the Board for the overcrowding and poverty of the West was emigration. A poster on the wall of the shop, behind the shopkeeper, advertises a shipping line to America. A sack in the lower right is emblazoned with an official American stamp and eagle. A large travelling trunk is propped up against this. The shopkeeper has his ledger on the counter in front of him, a crucial piece of equipment in which all his costumers’ accounts are carefully noted. The man is engrossed in reading a note, perhaps a letter from a relative who has gone to America.
(1) H. Pyle, The Different Worlds of Jack B. Yeats, Irish Academic Press, 1994, p.309.
Written by Roisin Kennedy