John Butler Yeats, Irish, 1839-1922
Title: Portrait of William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), Poet
Date: 1900
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
77 x 64 cm
Signed: upper right: J.B. Yeats, 1900
Credit Line: Presented, Mr C. Sullivan, in memory of Mr J. Quinn, 1926
Object Number: NGI.872
DescriptionThe year 1900 changed JBY’s life. His wife Susan, whose health had been declining, died the day after he had finished this animated portrait of William. This freedom from responsibility reveals itself in his portraits, which begin to show a new ease and confidence. In 1901 he offered this portrait to the Irish-American lawyer and collector John Quinn, who became an important friend and patron. JBY wrote to Lady Gregory in January 1900, describing how this portrait, which took only three sittings, captured the scholarly poet ‘as if in full tide of talk.’
ProvenancePurchased from the Artist by John Quinn; presented, Cornelius J. Sullivan and Mrs. Julia Anderson, in memory of John Quinn, 1926
Exhibition HistorySociety of Scottish Artists, Edinburgh, 1946

W.B. Yeats: Images of a Poet, Manchester; Dublin, 1961

W. B. Yeats: a Centenary Exhibition, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, 1965

Cuimhneachán 1916, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, 1966

Jack B. Yeats and his Family, Sligo; Dublin, 1971

John Butler Yeats and the Irish Renaissance, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, 1972

Aspects of Irish Art, a Loan Exhibition; Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, Columbus, Ohio, 27 January - 3 March 1974; Toledo Museum of Arts, Toledo, Ohio, 17 March - 14 April 1974; St Louis Art Museum, St Louis, Missouri, 3 May - 9 June 1974

At a Glance - Portraits by John Butler Yeats, National Gallery of Ireland, 24 October 2015 - 17 January 2016
Label TextThe year 1900 changed JBY’s life. His wife Susan, whose health had been declining, died the day after he had finished this animated portrait of William. This freedom from responsibility reveals itself in his portraits, which begin to show a new ease and confidence. In 1901 he offered this portrait to the Irish-American lawyer and collector John Quinn, who became an important friend and patron. JBY wrote to Lady Gregory in January 1900, describing how this portrait, which took only three sittings, captured the scholarly poet ‘as if in full tide of talk.’
Label TextW.B. Yeats, the towering literary figure, published his first writings in 1885 while he was an art student in Dublin. Inspired by Irish literature and folklore, he became increasingly involved in Irish political and cultural affairs. He helped to establish the Irish Literary Theatre (later the Abbey), campaigned for a national artistic revival, and served as an Irish Free State Senator from 1922 until 1928. In 1923 he became the first Irishman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. This portrait was one of several John Butler Yeats painted of his prodigious son.