The Sea and the Lighthouse
Jack B. Yeats (1871 – 1957)
© Estate of Jack B Yeats. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2013
ArtistJack B. Yeats
TitleThe Sea and the Lighthouse
Dimensions53.5 × 35.5cm
MediumOil on canvas
ProvenancePresented by the Friends of the National Collections of Ireland to Sligo County Library and Museum in 1965.
The artist depicts himself standing at Rosses Point, Co. Sligo, looking out towards the sea. The darkened sky is lit up by a beacon of yellow and white light emanating from an unseen lighthouse to the right of the composition. Most of the painting is taken up by the deep blue of the night sky dominated by a dark cloud. This is contrasted by the grey-white surface of the road and the crashing waves, and by the bright colour of the surrounding vegetation. The man stands, hat in hand, in awe of the power of the natural world. The work, which was painted while Yeats’s wife of more than fifty years was dying, has been read as a metaphor for the artist’s grief. Like many of his later paintings he sets himself or the human figure against the magnitude of creation.
Written by Roisin Kennedy