Donated by Mrs Leslie Reid, Kilheffernan, pre-1983

Jack B. Yeats (1871–1957)
Hand-coloured, wood block print, 20.5 x 30.5
Yeats’s work can be found in every important public collection in Ireland and in many public and private collections around the world.
Hilary Pyle, The Different Worlds of Jack B. Yeats: His cartoons and Illustrations, Dublin, 1994; Bruce Arnold, Jack Yeats, New Haven and London, 1998
No items found.
No items found.

Jack B. Yeats, younger brother of the poet, William Butler Yeats, is widely regarded nowadays as the most important and one of the most innovative Irish painters of the early twentieth century. (Only the abstract, cubist-inspired Mainie Jellett was as innovative, while other major figures such as William Orpen and Paul Henry produced impressive but more conventional artwork). Apart from his paintings, Jack Yeats supported his parents and siblings by working as an illustrator for several London magazines, producing designs for broadsheets and prints for his sisters’ Cuala Press and writing short plays, for performance in miniature theatres, that were greatly admired by his friend Samuel Beckett.His work extends over a wide range of expression, encompassing the bravado of the sportsman, drinker, or circus performer, or with no loss of depth, painting the sorrows of unrequited love or the loneliness of the marginalised and bereaved. In all of these, Yeats’s work is imbued with a sense of drama, always connected to a desire for freedom, and the sacrifices that must be made for it. He was widely admired not just in Ireland but also in Britain, by such figures as the Director of the National Gallery in London, Kenneth Clark, who gave him an exhibition there in 1942. Oskar Kokoschka, one of the leading Expressionists in Europe, corresponded with him and he was invited by Éamon De Valera to become Minister for the Arts long before that office was firmly established in 1993.Yeats was drawn all his life to the world of tearaways, boys who ran away to sea, horses racing off into the sunset towards freedom, all those characters who tramp from place to place because they cannot endure the restrictions of conventional social life. The donkey in Evening is one such creature. Freed from the shackles of the day, the animal suddenly finds the energy to bound away towards the stone wall boundaries, which now seem incapable of restraining him. There is nothing here to suggest the downtrodden, long-suffering animal of G.K Chesterton’s poem, The Donkey. Instead all is speed, energy and the exhilaration of the moment. This is one of many images that Yeats designed to be printed and hand-coloured by his sisters, Lily and Lolly, in the Cuala Press. Because each print is hand-coloured, no two are exactly alike, retaining something of the uniqueness of his paintings. In some the distant mountains are more intensely coloured, sometimes the boundaries appear closer, or the sky less clear; in all, however, the donkey dashes away, uncaring.