Irish Artist Directory

Lily Yeats (Irish Artist Directory)

Full Name: Lily Yeats

Lived: 1866 - 1949

Categories: Embroidery, Crafts, Cuala Industries

Artist Biography

Lily Yeats, daughter of John Butler Yeats and sister of W.B. and Jack B. Yeats, studied the craft of embroidery in London at the turn of the twentieth century. The skills she learned there were of the highest order as she worked for six years under May Morris who in turn had learned from her father William Morris, founder of the Arts and Crafts Movement and key member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.  It is reported that William Morris learned needlework techniques by way of purchasing and then meticulously dismantling genuine medieval specimens, and so the skills passed on to Yeats were a true manifestation of craft revival.  

Returning to Ireland in 1902, Lily Yeats joined her sister Elizabeth to settlewith their father at ‘Gurteen Dhas’, Dundrum, Co. Dublin. They joined with Evelyn Gleeson to set up the Dun Emer Guild in Dublin, where various craft skills were taught to and used by local woman with the double task of providing employment and while creating high quality garments for liturgical and private customers. Aptly, the guild took its name ‘Emer’ from the mythological Lady Emer, wife of Cuchullain, celebrated for her skill in needlework as well as her beauty. By 1904 Dun Emer had split by industry – Gleeson took charge of bookbinding and weaving while the Yeats sisters oversaw hand printing, fan painting and embroidery.

About 1906, Lolly widened the scope of the Press, and began to specialize in hand-coloured prints, Christmas cards, pamphlets, and she executed many of the designs. Cuala press was adapted after a break with Evelyn Gleeson and her brother Willie. Lily continued to teach local girls in a wide range of expressive stitches, and some were framed, or incorporated into cushions, table or bed linen or furnishings. Many were sold at nationalist art fairs, art and crafts exhibition in Dublin, London and New York, or given as presents far and wide. Lily Yeats executed a number of her designs for embroidery, the best known of which were the banners for the cathedral in Loughrea.

Lily Yeats' work was included in the exhibition 'Irish Women Artists: 1870-1970' (2014). Please click here to view the catalogue.

Yeat's work was also featured in 'Ireland: Her People and Landscape' (2012).


Lily Yeats Art Previously On Sale at Adam’s Auctioneers

John Butler Yeats RHA (1839-1922) Elkin Mathews Soft pencil, 22 x 23cm (9 x 9.25'') Inscribed pr...

Hammer Price €3,600.00

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Lily Yeats (1866-1949) Mary In A Cloak Embroidery, 76 x 45.5cm, (30 x 18'') Signed

Hammer Price €3,000.00

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Francis S. Walker RHA RE (1848-1916) The Dodder Oil on board, 17 x 27cm (6¾ x 10¾'') Signed ver...

Hammer Price €700.00

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YEATS, LILY Autograph letter signed by Lily Yeats at, Dundrum, Dublin, dated February 9th, 1916. ...

Hammer Price €370.00

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