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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

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  1. Louis le Brocquy - The Táin - Cúchulainn mounting into his chariot
  2. George William Russell(AE) (1867-1935) - Landscape with Woman and Children
  3. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- He wins
  4. Jack B. Yeats (1871 - 1957) - Singing The Minstrel Boy
  5. Norah McGuinness (1903 - 1980) - Hanrahan’s Vision (Illustrations for The Stories of Red Hanrahan)
  6. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Untitled, the interior of a shop
  7. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Portrait of Susan Mary (Lily) Yeats as a child
  8. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Simon the Cyrenian
  9. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) Portrait of Susan Mary (Lily) Yeats
  10. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)-G’Morrow Strawberry
  11. Sean Keating PRHA (1889 - 1979) - William and Mary
  12. Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904) - Wood Nymph
  13. George William Russell (AE) (1867-1935) - Portrait of Mary Colum
  14. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Johnny Paterson singing ’Bridget Donoghue’
  15. Marie Foley (b. 1959) - To Measure the Immeasurable
  16. Marie Foley (b. 1959) - Portrait
  17. Patrick Hall - Angels Ascending and Descending with Heavenly Spectators
  18. Estella Solomons - Portrait of Jack B. Yeats
  19. Constance Gore-Booth (1868 - 1927) - Untitled (Holloway Jail)
  20. Artist Unknown - Portrait of a Girl
  21. George William Russell (AE) (1867-1935) - Portrait of Kitsy Franklin
  22. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Cartoon for Figure of Christ
  23. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Sailor home from the sea
  24. atrick Hall - Jesus Walking on the Sea