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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

Browse the Collection

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  1. Estella Solomons - Portrait of Jack B. Yeats
  2. Maurice MacGonigal, PRHA (1900 - 1979) - The Gathering
  3. Constance Gore-Booth (1868 - 1927) - Untitled (Holloway Jail)
  4. Louis le Brocquy - The Táin - Mare and Foals
  5. George William Russell (AE) (1867-1935) - Portrait of Kitsy Franklin
  6. Jack B. Yeats (1871 - 1957) - Singing The Minstrel Boy
  7. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Market Day
  8. Maurice MacGonigal, PRHA (1900 - 1979) - Country Scene
  9. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- The Sea and the Lighthouse
  10. Jack B. Yeats (1871 - 1957) - The Stargazer
  11. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- The Bay Pilot, The River Pilot, The Stevedore, The Ganger and the Gang
  12. George William Russell (AE) (1867-1935)- Landscape with Picnic Scene
  13. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Portrait of John O’Leary
  14. Louis le Brocquy - The Táin - Lion
  15. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Portrait of Augusta Gregory
  16. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Fortune and her wheel
  17. Estella Solomons - Portrait of a Woman
  18. Patrick Scott (b. 1921) - Bog Sun (16)
  19. Marie Foley (b. 1959) - Portrait
  20. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) Portrait of Susan Mary (Lily) Yeats
  21. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Johnny Paterson singing ’Bridget Donoghue’
  22. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Leaving the Far Point
  23. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Portrait of Jennie Mitchell
  24. Nick Miller - John McGahern