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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. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957) - An Island Man
  2. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)-Red Hanrahan’s Vision
  3. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- A Political Meeting (in the West Of Ireland)
  4. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Portrait Figure of an Irish Gentleman
  5. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Portrait of Susan Mitchell
  6. Sir William Orpen RHA, RA AWS (1878-1931) - Portrait of Michael Davitt
  7. Artist Unknown - Portrait of a Girl
  8. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Portrait of Augusta Gregory
  9. Louis le Brocquy - The Táin - Lion
  10. Percy French (1854 - 1920) - A view of Sligo Quay
  11. Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904) - Wood Nymph
  12. Jack B. Yeats (1871 - 1957) - The Toy Theatre
  13. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Self Portrait
  14. Marie Foley (b. 1959) - The Great Breath
  15. Maurice MacGonigal, PRHA (1900 - 1979) - The Gathering
  16. Louis le Brocquy - Study towards an Image of W.B. Yeats
  17. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Untitled, the interior of a shop
  18. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Simon the Cyrenian
  19. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)-G’Morrow Strawberry
  20. Patrick Hall - Jesus Walking on the Sea
  21. Patrick Hall - Angels Ascending and Descending with Heavenly Spectators
  22. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)-A Western Town, Night
  23. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Cartoon for Figure of Christ
  24. Sean McSweeney - The Road