4 October 2015 – 17 January 2016
Millennium Wing (Room 1)
The National Gallery of Ireland holds a substantial collection of works in different media by John Butler Yeats (1839-1922), including 26 oils and 94 works on paper (including 23 illustrations to Defoe’s Romances and Narratives, 1895). The portraits in the collection depict eminent academic, political and literary figures with whom the artist associated, together with members of his family. Paintings of prominent figures such as the Fenian leader, John O’Leary will be displayed alongside more intimate family portraits.
A selection of sketches executed while John Butler Yeats was a member of the Dublin Contemporary Club (1886) will be shown together with drawings commissioned by Lady Augusta Gregory between 1895 and 1907. These sketches and drawings, revealing the artist’s technical facility as a draughtsman, include portraits of William Morris (1834-1896), Douglas Hyde (1860-1949), George Russell (1867-1935), Standish O’Grady (1846-1928), and John Millington Synge (1871-1909).
In this show, John Butler Yeats’s rendered portrait studies will be complemented by his New York Sketchbook (1907-1922), acquired by the NGI in 2008. In addition, a couple of drawings on loan from the National Library of Ireland of members of the artist’s immediate family will feature along with a drawing of Lady Gregory (1905), from the Abbey Theatre collection. This exhibition aims to shine a light on an accomplished yet often overlooked artist whose passion lay in portraiture.