Lot 161
  • 161

Jack B. Yeats, R.H.A.

8,000 - 12,000 GBP
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  • Jack B. Yeats, R.H.A.
  • The artist's scribbling diary for 1888, with almanac, interleaved with blotting paper, London: T.J. Smith, son & Downes, 1888
  • pen and ink
8vo (216 x 136mm.), WITH AUTOGRAPH ENTRIES FOR MOST DAYS OF THE YEAR AND PROFUSELY ILLUSTRATED WITH PEN AND INK AND WATERCOLOUR SKETCHES, cash account leaves at the end with further sketches, inscribed on front endpaper by the artist to himself ("from Jack Yeats | to his dear friend | Jack B. Yeats | (Ballyhooly"), pen and ink sketch of Ballyhooly "bookplate" on front paste-down, further autograph note at the end "This Belongs | to | Ballyhooly | of | Ballyhooly | Hall...", subsequently given to the artist's sister Susan Mary ("Lily") Yeats, with mock formal autograph inscription for 31 December ("Presented to | Lilly Yeats | by her brother", red seal beneath, with Lily's bookplate on the upper cover, signed also by the artist on upper cover, paper-covered stiff boards


Bruce Arnold, Jack Yeats, 1998 (see chapter 3, "Art School in London 1887-1889", and p.38, where a few sketches from this diary are reproduced)


hinges repaired and starting, some leaves nearly loose, some wear to covers
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

AN IMMENSELY CHARMING AND EVOCATIVE ILLUSTRATED DIARY BY THE YOUNG TEENAGE ARTIST FOR HIS SECOND YEAR IN LONDON IN 1888 (also incorporating his summer holiday trip back to Ireland, after his move from his grandparent's house in Sligo to join the rest of his family. Jack had moved in 1887, living first in Earls Court (where he attended classes at the South Kensington School of Art, the Chiswick School of Art, and the Westinster School of Art), and then at 3 Blenheim Road, Bedford Park, where he started work as a black-and-white artist for The Vegetarian, before moving on to illustrate for Ariel and Paddock Life.

The diary contains entries of great colour and detail recording Jack's new London life, including his attendance at art school, sittings for his father John B. Yeats, acceptance of his sketches for the Vegetarian ("went with Willy's poem and my illustrations he took them"), trips and excursions to various London sights including Richmond Park,  Olympia, the People's Palace, cattle shows ("Uncle George's Pony got 3rd prize"), the Lord Mayor's show, sports activities including badminton, tennis, riding,  swimming and boating ("boated considerable rowed round to deadmans Point..."), his reading ("finished Allen Quartermain"), nights out at the theatre ("Went to Lyceum tonight with Lilly Lolly and ... it was Prince Karl (and bully it was too..."), his dreams, the "great excitement about the coming eclipse. Saying it makes people livelier to prove which he is very excited and lively himself..", and much else, providing a colourful and vivid portrait of his year, the illustrations including yachts (some in watercolour), gunslingers and cowboys with wagons ("street scene in Texas"), "Pucahontas on the war path",  horses, hansom cabs, snooker players, caricatures (e.g. "A Vegetarian", "Mr Sikes"), men with dogs, fencing players, self- portraits and portraits of his brother W.B. (e.g. 27 May, "Willy and I did his ceiling") and much else.

As Hilary Pyle has noted it was the artist's habit from a young age to carry diaries around with him, sketching as he travelled, noting characters and incidents that interested him, and using the diaries/sketchbooks to practice his powers of observation and to train his memory. EARLY SKETCHES BY JACK YEATS REMAIN VERY SCARCE ON THE OPEN MARKET. For others from a similar period, see lots 138--145 from the collection of Grace Butler Yeats, sold in these rooms on 15 July 1999.

"The early years..are of inestimable importance in the formation of the mature Yeats...the early watercolours and drawings...should be regarded as seriously as the miniatures of Nathaniel Horne, or the early works of Turner, and the frescoes and cartoons of Goya, whom Yeats admired and no doubt admired from" (Hilary Pyle, Jack B. Yeats. A Catalogue Raisonné)