In late 2011 a generous Danish collector gifted The Niland Collection an early Jack B Yeats watercolour. Political, 1898 was painted after Jack witnessed the centenary celebrations of the 1798 Rebellion here in Sligo. I was dispatched to his home in Denmark to meet with him and take possession of the work. During my visit he told me about his mother and how she had passed her great love of Jack B Yeats on to him. Amongst his small collection of Yeats works I spotted an untitled painting which I recognised as the earliest surviving oil by Jack B Yeats. Being a huge Yeats fan I was immediately intrigued with the skillful brush work of this tiny painting. My Danish friend took it off the wall and after some time almost had to prise the work from my hands reminding me with a smile that I wasn’t getting that one.
Almost a year to the day later, our generous benefactor phoned again and told me that after having considered things he had decided that we were going to get that one too. Bowled over by his generosity I arrived on his doorstep once more to pick up the latest addition to The Niland Collection. Now sadly in ill health he spoke movingly of his family history and his love of Yeats. I could see that these paintings were a tangible link between he and his long deceased Irish mother and the joy that he gained from these works over his lifetime was immense. We are honoured that he chose to send them “home to Sligo”.
Untitled, 1897 is on view at The Model until June.