This exhibition will enable audiences to trace the development of key characters in Jack Butler Yeats’ work, through an exploration of his illustrations, pencil sketches, watercolours and the iconic oil paintings of his later mature period. In a practice that spanned seven decades and displayed a wide variety of styles, it is interesting to note that Yeats’ subject-matter changed very little from his earliest work to his latest.
The characters he encountered in the west of Ireland – the sea-farer, the market-trader, the street balladeer – became the mainstay of his artistic life. The meaning of this cast of marginal characters however, changed significantly over the years. As romantic depictions of rural people and ordinary life gave way to more gritty and realistic representations of Irishness, so too, in turn, did this give way to a more expressionistic treatment of the human figure in his later work.