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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. Sean Keating PRHA (1889 - 1979) - Turf-Gatherer
  2. Patrick Scott (b. 1921) - Bog Sun (16)
  3. Norah McGuinness - Les Bigoudenes
  4. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) Portrait of Susan Mary (Lily) Yeats
  5. George William Russell(AE) (1867-1935) - Landscape with Woman and Children
  6. Jack B. Yeats (1871 - 1957) - The Toy Theatre
  7. George William Russell(AE) (1867-1935) - The Sower
  8. Percy French (1854 - 1920) - A view of Sligo Quay
  9. Estella Solomons - Portrait of Jack B. Yeats
  10. Maurice MacGonigal, PRHA (1900 - 1979) - The Gathering
  11. George William Russell (AE) (1867-1935)- Landscape with Picnic Scene
  12. Estella Solomons - Woman in Riding Habit
  13. Rita Duffy (b.1959) - Belfast Pieta
  14. Estella Solomons - Portrait of a Woman
  15. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- A Political Meeting (in the West Of Ireland)
  16. Estella Solomons - Portrait of Sean Milroy
  17. Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904) - Wood Nymph
  18. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Untitled, the interior of a shop
  19. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- An Island Funeral
  20. Maurice MacGonigal, PRHA (1900 - 1979)- Port Rachrainn
  21. George William Russell (AE) (1867-1935) - Portrait of Mary Colum
  22. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)-Singing “The beautiful Picture“
  23. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Simon the Cyrenian
  24. Marie Foley (b. 1959) - The Great Breath