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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. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)-A Western Town, Night
  2. George William Russell (AE) (1867-1935) - Portrait of Mary Colum
  3. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Portrait of Augusta Gregory
  4. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- The Metal Man
  5. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- He wins
  6. Jack B. Yeats (1871 - 1957) - Communicating with Prisoners
  7. Norah McGuinness - Les Bigoudenes
  8. Sean McSweeney - The Road
  9. Estella Solomons - Portrait of Jack B. Yeats
  10. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)-Red Hanrahan’s Vision
  11. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- An Island Funeral
  12. Louis le Brocquy - Hell Fire Club from Tibradden
  13. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- The Sea and the Lighthouse
  14. Maurice MacGonigal, PRHA (1900 - 1979) - The Gathering
  15. Louis le Brocquy - Study towards an Image of W.B. Yeats
  16. Sean Keating (1889-1977)- Old Kitty
  17. Jack B. Yeats (1871 - 1957) - The Toy Theatre
  18. Constance Gore-Booth (1868-1927) - Untitled
  19. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Portrait of John O’Leary
  20. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)-Singing “The beautiful Picture“
  21. James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) - Maunder’s Fishshop, Chelsea
  22. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Shruna Meala, Rosses Point
  23. George William Russell (AE) (1867-1935) - Shining Shallows
  24. Sean Keating PRHA (1889 - 1979) - Self Portrait