The Permanent Collections

Painting Collection

Jack B Yeats – Chairoplane


Yeats, Jack B

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n.d., oil on linen, 45 x 60 cm (gift of the artist in 1937)


Jack B Yeats (1871-1957) was born in London, son of Irish painter John Butler, and spent much of his childhood living with his grandparents in Co Sligo. He was the youngest brother of the famous Irish poet, William B Yeats. Jack B Yeats worked as an illustrator for several years before developing an interest in oil painting. He traveled and exhibited extensively outside Ireland, raising consciousness of Irish arts in an international stage.

Although resident in England for much of his life, Yeats spent an enormous amount of time in Ireland, and he is deeply associated with the cultural and social history of the country. His paintings are infused with wit, and openly demonstrate his love of Irish society, most particularly, the people from the west of Ireland, with whom he felt a special affinity. Yeats is quoted as saying 'Sligo was my school and the sky above it'.

Chairoplanes is an exuberant portrayal of an amusement at a fairground. Juicy impasto swirls capture the energy and excitement of the moment. Yeats grasps and swathes in paint an immense spirit, an excess of pleasure in recording the world he loved and inhabited during his time in Ireland.

Similarly to Grace Henry's work, Yeats plays with the viewers perspective, drawing our eye upward from the bottom of the canvas, the image seems to have been painted from a point somewhere below the swinging seat. Yeats embraces experimentation, and his paintings are evidence of his willingness to play with the style of modern movement at the time. His painting style bears influence of both Impressionism and Expressionism.

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