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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. Patrick Hall - Angels Ascending and Descending with Heavenly Spectators
  2. George William Russell(AE) (1867-1935) - Landscape with Woman and Children
  3. Percy French (1854 - 1920) - A view of Sligo Quay
  4. Estella Solomons - Woman in Riding Habit
  5. Louis le Brocquy - The Táin - Cúchulainn mounting into his chariot
  6. Maurice MacGonigal, PRHA (1900 - 1979)- Port Rachrainn
  7. Jack B. Yeats - White Shower
  8. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Portrait of Augusta Gregory
  9. Jack B. Yeats (1871 - 1957) - The Toy Theatre
  10. atrick Hall - Jesus Walking on the Sea
  11. Estella Solomons - Portrait of Sean Milroy
  12. Norah McGuinness - Les Bigoudenes
  13. Louis le Brocquy - Hell Fire Club from Tibradden
  14. George William Russell (AE) (1867-1935) - Portrait of Mary Colum
  15. Sean Keating PRHA (1889 - 1979) - William and Mary
  16. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Self Portrait
  17. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Simon the Cyrenian
  18. Sean Keating (1889-1977)- Old Kitty
  19. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)-Red Hanrahan’s Vision
  20. Nick Miller - Portrait of Barrie Cooke
  21. Sean Keating (1889-1977)- Head of a Boy
  22. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- The Metal Man
  23. Constance Gore-Booth (1868-1927) - Untitled
  24. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) Portrait of Susan Mary (Lily) Yeats