Jack Butler Yeats RHA (1871 - 1957) Crossing the Canal Bridg...

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Jack Butler Yeats RHA (1871 - 1957) Crossing the Canal Bridge, from the Tram Top (1927) Oil on panel, 23 x 35.5cm (9 x 14) Signed Provenance: Sold by the artist to Leo Smith, 1944; The Dawson Gallery, Dublin; Ex Collection Peter Ledbetter; Auction Taylor DeVere's, where purchased; Ex Collection Patrick & Antoinette Murphy; Private Collection, Dublin Exhibited: Engineer's Hall, 'Paintings', Dublin February/March 1927, Catalogue No.18; Alpine Club Gallery, 'Paintings', London June/July 1930, Catalogue No.14; National Gallery of Ireland, 'Shaping Ireland: Landscapes in Irish Art', Dublin April-July 2019. Literature: Hilary Pyle, 'Jack B. Yeats, A Catalogue Raisonne of the Oil Paintings', London 1992, Catalogue No.326; Patrick J. Murphy, 'A Passion for Collecting: A Memoir', 2012, illustrated in colour; NGI, Donal Maguire Ed., 'Shaping Ireland: Landscapes in Irish Art', 2019, illustrated p.104 This very unusual painting depicts a view from the top of a double-decker tram as it crosses the Grand Canal at Portobello. The no 15 tram ran from Nelsons Pillar via Rathmines to Terenure. The window gives a view onto the canal looking east towards Charlemont Bridge. It is night-time and the brightly lit interior of the tram and its window frame contrasts with the gloom of the outside world. The former is painted in dazzling orange and red paint, lending it a tactile appearance. The bizarre angle of the window suggests that the tram has just crossed the apex of the bridge. Beyond its confines the city appears both calm and mysterious. The sky is an intense deep blue, a colour that is enhanced by its proximity to the orange of the window frame. The regular line of the canal with its green banks, outline of trees and the flowing cascade of water evoke the regularity of the cityscape in that part of Dublin. Touches of white and yellow light indicate nocturnal activity. To the right the shadowy forms of pedestrians hurry along the street. Yeats painted several views from trams or trains, clearly enjoying the sense of distance and remove that such transport provided. He used the train and tram network extensively when he first moved back to Ireland in 1910, when he commuted regularly from Greystones to Dublin by rail. In the 1920s when he lived in Donnybrook and from 1929 Fitzwilliam Square, the subject became much more frequent in his oeuvre. One work, From the Tram Top, also painted in 1927, includes a self-portrait of the artist. The 1924 painting, The Canal from the Train, uses a similarly angled window to frame a prospect of the canal and its banks in sunlight. The intensity of the colours and the richness of the paint surface in Crossing the Canal Bridge along with the imposition of the framing device onto the landscape, makes this a deeply expressionist work that transforms a familiar location into an evocative unfamiliar spectacle. But, as always with Yeats, the physical construction of the painting remains paramount. Róisín Kennedy

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)