Monday, 28 March 2016

28‭ ‬March‭ ‬1957:‭ ‬The death of the Artist Jack B.‭ ‬Yeats on this day.‭ ‬He was born in London in‭ ‬1871‭ ‬the son of John Butler Yeats.‭ ‬His younger brother was W.‭ ‬B.‭ ‬Yeats.‭ ‬His early years were spent chiefly in County Sligo and later in London where he studied at the Westminster School of Art.‭ ‬He initially settled in Devon with his wife and his first one-man exhibition was at the Clifford Gallery,‭ ‬Haymarket,‭ ‬London in‭ ‬1897,‭ ‬showing chiefly Devon paintings.‭ ‬He moved to the USA in‭ ‬1905‭ ‬and had several one-man shows at the Clausen Gallery,‭ ‬New York in this period.‭

He returned to Ireland in‭ ‬1910,‭ ‬living first at Greystones,‭ ‬then in Dublin.‭ ‬He had earned a living from sketch work for various publications as well as Exhibitions of his paintings.‭ ‬He took up Oils in‭ ‬1913‭ ‬and while schooled in traditionalist painting he was drawn to more abstract and impressionist works that soon became his forte.‭ ‬He applied his love of this kind of work to scenes of life in the West of Ireland,‭ ‬travellers and social events both rural and urban.‭ ‬From early youth he was fascinated by the Circus and worked that into his paintings too.‭ ‬A solitary figure‭ ‬he took no pupils and allowed no one watch him work,‭ ‬so his method remains a mystery.‭ ‬In later life he used colour to the full and cut down on distinctive outlines in his works that gave them a blurred but visually strong impact on the viewer.

While he was a successful artist in his own day,‭ ‬not just with the brush but also as an illustrator,‭ ‬playwright and novelist.‭ ‬Prior to his death in‭ ‬1957,‭ ‬he began to be recognized as one of the foremost Irish painters and illustrators in the‭ ‬20th century.‭ ‬But‭ ‬ it is only in the last‭ ‬25‭ ‬years that his genius has been accorded the status of a Great Artist and he is now acknowledged as a figure of the considerable importance on the International stage in‭ ‬20th Century Modern Art.

Amongst his most well known works are:‭ ‬Bachelor’s Walk‭; ‬In Memory‭; ‬The Funeral of Harry Boland‭ ‬; Communicating with Prisoners‭;‬ The Singing Clown‭ ‬and the Face in the Shadow.

Towards the end he described his Life as follows:

I have travelled all my life without a ticket,‭ ‬and therefore I was never to be seen when Inspectors came round because then I was under the seats.‭ ‬It was rather dusty but I used to get the Sun on the floor sometimes.

He was‭ ‬85‭ ‬years old when he died and still active until a few days beforehand.‭ ‬His funeral was held at St Stephens Church,‭ ‬Upper Mount Street and afterwards to the burial plot at Mount Jerome Cemetery.‭ ‬There were no‭  ‬flowers,‭ ‬only a single one the coffin.

Portrait by James Sinton Sleator (1943)

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