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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. Marie Foley (b. 1959) - To Measure the Immeasurable
  2. George William Russell (AE) (1867-1935) - Portrait of Mary Colum
  3. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Self Portrait
  4. Sean Keating PRHA (1889 - 1979) - Self Portrait
  5. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Untitled, the interior of a shop
  6. Rita Duffy (b.1959) -Seige ||
  7. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Fortune and her wheel
  8. Sean Keating (1889-1977)- Old Kitty
  9. Jack B. Yeats (1871 - 1957) - Communicating with Prisoners
  10. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- The Funeral of Harry Boland
  11. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)-A Western Town, Night
  12. Patrick Hall - Jesus Walking on the Sea
  13. Estella Solomons - Portrait of a Woman
  14. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Portrait of Augusta Gregory
  15. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) Portrait of Susan Mary (Lily) Yeats
  16. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Portrait Figure of an Irish Gentleman
  17. Maurice MacGonigal, PRHA (1900 - 1979) - The Gathering
  18. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Portrait of Douglas Hyde
  19. Sean Keating PRHA (1889 - 1979) - Turf-Gatherer
  20. Nick Miller - John McGahern
  21. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Shruna Meala, Rosses Point
  22. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957) - An Island Man
  23. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- The Bay Pilot, The River Pilot, The Stevedore, The Ganger and the Gang
  24. Jack B. Yeats (1871 - 1957) - The Toy Theatre