Thursday, July 31, 2014

Jack Butler Yeats

The comforter
oil on board
35.56 x 45.72 cm
location unknown

John "Jack" Butler Yeats (1871-1957) was the best-known Irish painter of the 20th century and Olympic medalist. He won the silver Olympic medal for his painting in 1924. Art competitions formed part of the modern Olympic Games during its early years, from 1912 to 1948 and medals were awarded for works of art inspired by sport. Works were divided into five categories: architecture, literature, music, painting, and sculpture.

He was born in London, England. He was the youngest son of a barrister who became a successful portrait painter, and brother of the poet William Butler Yeats who received the 1923 Nobel Prize in Literature. His career spanned a variety of occupations, working as an illustrator and cartoonist for various newspapers, moving on to watercolor and oil. His depictions of Celtic myth and daily life in the west of Ireland, illustrated initially for magazines and later depicted in oil contributed to Ireland's upsurge of nationalist sentiment at a turbulent time in Irish history for independence.

His early paintings were influenced by French Impressionism, but he then developed a more personal Expressionistic style characterized by vivid colour and extremely loose brushwork (there is some similarity to the work of Kokoschka, who became a great friend in the last decade of Yeats's life). Although he has many admirers, some critics think that his late paintings often degenerate into a muddy mess. His style evolved over the course of his career moving from realism to more abstract expressionism. His status as one of the great Irish artists of the modern era is reinforced by the fact he was the first painter from Ireland to sell a painting for £1 million. He was a writer as well as a painter - the author of several plays, novels, and volumes of poetry.