Irish Art, including Property from the Collection of Sir Michael Smurfit

Irish Art, including Property from the Collection of Sir Michael Smurfit

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 36. JACK B. YEATS, R.H.A. | KERRY FISHERMAN.


Auction Closed

September 9, 02:37 PM GMT


70,000 - 100,000 GBP

Lot Details





signed l.r.: JACK B YEATS

oil on panel

23 by 35.5cm., 9 by 14in.

Painted in 1927.

Purchased from the artist by Herr E. Hempel in 1940;

Purchased by the father of the present owner in the 1960s and thence by descent

Hilary Pyle, Jack B Yeats, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings, Andre Deutsch, 1992, Vol. I, no.339, p.308

The present work depicts a local fisherman whose strong features and confident stance offer a heroic figure, typical of Yeats’ depiction of sea-faring men. Staring to the distance and wrapped in a heavy overcoat, he fills the composition while behind him is the coast of Kerry, the waters of which he would know intimately through years on the sea. Immediately below him boats are moored with a fellow fisherman attending them - the flash of silvery blues suggesting they are unloading their catch.  

Since his childhood growing up among the quays of Sligo, Yeats developed a wonder and admiration for seafaring figures – in line with his lifelong occupation with distinct characters on the fringes of society who populate many of his works. The present painting dates to the late 1920s. Yeats had painted Kerry before, but these earlier works focus solely on the coastline and are devoid of figures, such as Kerry Landscape (private collection, sold Adam’s, Dublin, 28 September 2016, lot 10). By the 1920s, local figures, often solitary, appear in Yeats’ oils. The present work is a characteristic example and executed when Yeats’ style remained relatively realist with the figures delineated, giving them an emphatic presence. However, by the end of the decade his brushwork was loosening, forms were dissolving and colour was more freely applied. We see the onset of such developments in the present work which has a fluid, painterly surface anticipating the unique style of Yeats’ later work. By that stage, the sea and sea-faring figures persist but in a more abstract way, and the sea itself often serves a metaphysical purpose.

Kerry Fisherman is a quintessential Yeats image making its first appearance at auction having been in a private family collection in Canada for over fifty years.