On the family's move to London in 1887, the young Jack attended art school and there he met Mary Cottenham White, known as 'Cottie'. She was herself a competent artist, as seen in the works by her included in this sale. Jack's sister recalled how 'Jack...found himself sitting next to a fellow-student, pleasing to the eye and of sympathetic outlook. He used to return home to receive his father's periodic enquiry,"And how is Dottie?" Cottie,
not Dottie, please, Father." It was a long time before his parent could get it right.' (quote in Pyle, Jack B. Yeats
, 1989, p.38). In 1892, Jack surprised the family by announcing his engagement to Cottie. He then worked tirelessly as an illustrator in Manchester for two years in order to raise enough money to marry her, which he did on 23 August 1894 at the Emmanuel Church, Gunnersbury.
Cottie, a few years older than Jack, was immediately liked by the family. She came from Devon and after their marriage, the couple built a cottage and studio at Strete, near Dartmouth (see lot 175), where they were to live happily for thirteen years before settling in Dublin.