This image is subject to copyright and cannot be downloaded or reproduced without written permission.
Jack B. Yeats (1871 - 1957) - Communicating with Prisoners

Communicating with Prisoners

Jack B. Yeats (1871 – 1957)

© Estate of Jack B Yeats. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2013

  • Artist
    Jack B. Yeats
  • Title
    Communicating with Prisoners
  • Date
    c. 1924
  • Dimensions
    59 × 44cm
  • Medium
    Oil on canvas
  • Collection
    Niland Collection
  • Provenance
    Purchased by public subscription from the Capuchin Annual in 1962
Description

This is one of Yeats’s most important depictions of life in Dublin in the early years of the Free State. A group of women call up to republican prisoners incarcerated in Kilmainham Jail. The latter, also women, have been interned by the Free State government for their involvement in the Civil War. They have broken the windows of the jail, through which one figure can be seen leaning out, to shout messages to their friends below. Yeats juxtaposes the sombre tower of the jail with a brightly coloured hoarding on which advertisements for bazaars and entertainments are pasted.

These contrasting forms convey the conflicting experiences of communication in Ireland in this period, one of censorship and control, the other of opportunity and apparent freedom of choice. The line of standing women makes a visual connection between the two horizontal elements of the tower and the hoarding. Their proximity to the posters and the variety of the women’s attire show that they are part of modern Ireland but their frustrated attempts to converse with the prisoners contradicts any notion of freedom. Hilary Pyle thinks that the work may have been painted from a photograph (1). It uses a stark composition in which the undulating outline of the women is mirrored by the blue silhouette of the houses in the distance behind them.

(1) Hilary Pyle, Jack B. Yeats. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings, London, 1992, I, no, 246, p.221.

Written by Roisin Kennedy

Browse the Collection

Browse by: Image / List

  1. George William Russell (AE) (1867-1935) - Portrait of Kitsy Franklin
  2. Rita Duffy (b.1959) - Belfast Pieta
  3. Jack B. Yeats (1871 - 1957) - Singing The Minstrel Boy
  4. Rita Duffy (b.1959) -Seige ||
  5. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Fortune and her wheel
  6. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- The Car is at the door
  7. Norah McGuinness - Tide Receding, Dublin Bay
  8. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Portrait of Jennie Mitchell
  9. Sir William Orpen RHA, RA AWS (1878-1931) - Portrait of Michael Davitt
  10. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Johnny Paterson singing ’Bridget Donoghue’
  11. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Untitled, the interior of a shop
  12. Norah McGuinness (1903 - 1980) - Hanrahan’s Vision (Illustrations for The Stories of Red Hanrahan)
  13. Kathy Prendergast (b.1958) - Untitled
  14. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)-A Western Town, Night
  15. Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904) - Wood Nymph
  16. Patrick Hall - Angels Ascending and Descending with Heavenly Spectators
  17. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) Portrait of Susan Mary (Lily) Yeats
  18. Louis le Brocquy - Study towards an Image of W.B. Yeats
  19. Estella Solomons - Portrait of Jack B. Yeats
  20. Sean Keating (1889-1977)- Old Kitty
  21. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- The Funeral of Harry Boland
  22. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Sailor home from the sea
  23. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)-Red Hanrahan’s Vision
  24. Marie Foley (b. 1959) - To Measure the Immeasurable