Jack and John Butler Yeats Exhibition opens in Wexford
A select collection of Jack and John Butler Yeats works from The Model, home of The Niland Collection has gone tour for the first time as works from two of Ireland’s major artists Jack B. Yeats and John B. Yeats opened at the Wexford Arts Centre on Saturday, October 17th at 4pm.
The ‘Yeats & Son – John and Jack Butler Yeats’ exhibition was officially opened by Emer McGarry, Deputy Director of Model Arts and Niland Gallery and will remain in situ until November 21st.
28 different works are included in this exhibition with fourteen pieces by Jack B. Yeats and fourteen pieces by John B. Yeats going on display. In 2011 The Model exhibited a different selections of works under the title Yeats & Son and the work of both Jack B. Yeats and John B. Yeats has not toured elsewhere in Ireland in the past.
Commenting at the launch of the exhibition, Ms McGarry said, “The Model is delighted to partner with Wexford Arts Centre on this exhibition by both John and Jack Butler Yeats. The Niland Collection is centred around the work of the Yeats Family and this show marks the first time that a joint exhibition by father and son has been presented outside of Sligo. Through our ongoing Niland Collection Touring Programming, we are very pleased to be in a position to share Sligo’s rich cultural heritage with audiences around the country.”
The Niland Collection was named after Nora Niland, the County Librarian, who began collecting this critical body of work in the 1950’s. What began by Nora borrowing five works by Jack B. Yeats has since grown to include over 300 works of Irish art.
“We are delighted to host this prestigious exhibition in association with Wexford County Council and in partnership with The Model Sligo.” added Elizabeth Whyte, Executive Director, Wexford Arts Centre.
“In the year when we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of William Butler Yeats, it is fitting that we should host an exhibit of renowned artworks by his inspiring father John B. Yeats and brother Jack B. Yeats. Alongside this exhibition, we will also host a literary event featuring the works of W.B. Yeats on Monday 26th October 2pm read by local writers and writers from the Yeats International Literary residency with our Coracle Europe partners in Sweden and Wales. The Wexford Fringe and Opera Festival is an opportune time for Wexford Arts Centre to showcase national art of excellence to our local, national and international visitors alike and encourage all to avail of this unique experience to visit and absorb the beauty of this stunning collection of artworks from the West while it resides with us temporarily in the South East during the most vibrant time to be in Wexford for an arts and culture experience.”
John Butler Yeats is widely known as an Irish portrait artist, illustrator and the father of poet William Butler Yeats and renowned artist Jack B. Yeats. Although he initially studied and practised law, he soon took up painting and studied at the Heatherley School of Fine Art, London. His sensitivity as a portrait artist and painter was greatly admired, and his portraits effectively convey the immediacy and personality of the sitter. This close attention to his subject is visible through his portraits of Jennie and Susan Mitchell, where Yeats’ portrayal of the women shares the same intimate quality found in sketches of his own family. Yeats was a popular painter of children, and as can be seen through sketches of his children, particularly his daughter Lily Yeats, his ability to represent personality and character ran against conventional stereotypes and troupes found in Victorian art of the time. Later in life, Yeats moved from Ireland to America where his exposure to modernist art in New York affected his later work. He remained there for the rest of his life until his death in 1922.
The strength and lasting appeal of Jack B. Yeats work lies in his intensely personal response to his subject matter. He began his career as an illustrator of broad sheets and journals, where he developed the style of bold and linear lines one can see in his works up to 1920. Yeats captured the essence of human nature, individuality, humour, sadness and grief. Many themes he sketched from life by observing people in their environments and surrounding landscapes. He is known as one of the most important Irish artists of his time. Although he was not actively political, he painted some of the most important scenes of Irish history. Over the next forty years his subdued palette and tonal contrasts evolved through his use of vibrant colour, technique and application to an iconic style. This emotive way of working eventually saw him move beyond the use of linear lines in his work, which still maintained strong and directional slashes from the palette knife. As time progressed, his work became ever more abstract, experimental and deeply expressive but still looked to life and humanity as his source and inspiration.
Yeats & Son – John and Jack Butler Yeats will run in the upper and lower galleries of Wexford Arts Centre from Saturday 17th October to Saturday 21st November 2015.
This Exhibition was brought to Wexford by Wexford County Council and Visit Wexford, and the Board of Wexford Arts Centre