The poet and painter George Russell had his first encounter with the Yeats family through WBY at the Metropolitan School of Art in Dublin, where the two were studying in the mid-1880s. It was the start of a lifelong association for the two through the theatre and other cultural projects. Russell is best remembered now for his visionary paintings yet he led an active life in the Irish National Theatre Society, was editor of The Irish Homestead
and The Irish Statesman
and played a crucial role on the Peace Committee formed during the 1913 Strike in Dublin and also in the Irish Home Rule Convention of 1917.
JBY was commissioned to paint George Russell in 1902 by the American lawyer and patron, John Quinn. The original from 1903 is in the National Gallery of Ireland, while another from 1904 is in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin.