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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)- Portrait Figure of an Irish Gentleman
  2. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Portrait of Susan Mitchell
  3. Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904) - Wood Nymph
  4. Percy French (1854 - 1920) - A view of Sligo Quay
  5. Jack B. Yeats - White Shower
  6. Estella Solomons - Portrait of Sean Milroy
  7. Rita Duffy (b.1959) - Belfast Pieta
  8. Jack B. Yeats - Crest of the Hill
  9. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- He wins
  10. Louis le Brocquy - Study towards an Image of W.B. Yeats
  11. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Self Portrait
  12. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- The Sea and the Lighthouse
  13. Jack B. Yeats (1871 - 1957) - Singing The Minstrel Boy
  14. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Simon the Cyrenian
  15. Sean Keating PRHA (1889 - 1979) - Self Portrait
  16. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- The Car is at the door
  17. Norah McGuinness - Tide Receding, Dublin Bay
  18. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)-A Western Town, Night
  19. Maurice MacGonigal, PRHA (1900 - 1979) - The Gathering
  20. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- The Bay Pilot, The River Pilot, The Stevedore, The Ganger and the Gang
  21. Sir William Orpen RHA, RA AWS (1878-1931) - Portrait of Michael Davitt
  22. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- The Funeral of Harry Boland
  23. Sean Keating PRHA (1889 - 1979) - Turf-Gatherer
  24. Norah McGuinness (1903 - 1980) - Hanrahan’s Vision (Illustrations for The Stories of Red Hanrahan)