Jack Butler Yeats RHA (1871-1957) The Squireen (1899) Waterc...

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Jack Butler Yeats RHA (1871-1957) The Squireen (1899) Watercolour 36 x 52cm (14 ¼ x 20 ½ “) Signed and dated 1899 Provenance: With Waddington Galleries, London 1961; Collection N. Bernstein, Dublin; With Theo Waddington, London, label verso; Collection John Temple Lang, Dublin, thence by descent. Exhibited : London, April 1961, Waddington Galleries, Early Watercolours; Derry, April 1964, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, North-West Arts Festival, cat no 34; Belfast, May 1964, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, May Festival, cat no 28. Literature: Hilary Pyle, Jack B. Yeats His Watercolours, Drawings and Pastels, Irish Academic Press 1993, no 196, illus. p.80. This early watercolour by Jack B. Yeats depicts a young gentleman on horseback. Its title, ‘The Squireen’, suggests as Hilary Pyle has written, ‘a petty squire, of the type well known in Ireland at the time’. The little squire seems a derogatory or familiar term for this self-important figure. He holds himself with one arm on the reins of the galloping mount, and the other is bent to his waist, allowing the squire to survey the countryside through which he passes at some speed. His smart blue jacket with buttoned cuffs and brown hat indicate his high status. Yeats was aware of the social class structure of rural Ireland and its different categories of male citizenry provided him with a major source of subject matter, especially in his early work. This theme culminated in twelve oil paintings that he made to illustrate George A. Birmingham’s Irishmen All in 1912. This included such characters as the Country Gentleman, the Minor Official, the Publican and the Squireen. The latter figure, as in other works also, is quite unlike his early manifestation in this watercolour. Wearing an overcoat, this heavy-set middle-aged squireen is quite unlike the young bounder of this painting. The horse is shown in full gallop with its legs curved up under its body, all four of them off the ground, thus adding to the literal elevation of the squireen. Painted in watercolour and gouache, the expansive sky is a complex evocation of a typical cloud filled Irish day. The clouds form delicate patterns that span the background, providing a dynamic setting for the figure. Thick white paint is evident around the legs of the steed suggestive of movement and of Yeats’s careful delineation of the animal’s body as it moves through space. Already at this early stage of his career as a fine art painter, Yeats shows himself to be a master of the representation of the horse and an astute portrayer of character. Dr. Róisín Kennedy, April 2024

Auction Date:
29th May 24 at 6pm BST

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Sale Dates:
29th May 2024 6pm BST (Lots 1.00 to 124.00)