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JACK BUTLER YEATS RHA (1871-1957) Jazz Babies (1929) Oil on canvas, 61 x 91.5cms (24 x 36'') Signed Exhibited: Royal Hibernian Academy Annual Exhibition 1929, Dublin, cat. no. 87 Jack B. Yeats Exhibition, Alpine Club Gallery London, June-July 1930, cat. no. 7 Nicolson and Yeats Exhibition, The National Gallery London, January 1942, cat. no. 10 London China Aid Exhibition, London 1943 Jack B. Yeats Exhibition, The Victor Waddington Gallery, London, March 1973, cat. no. 3 Literature: Dublin Opinion May 1929 p73 (cartoon) Hilary Pyle, Jack B. Yeats exhibition catalogue, Waddington Gallery 1973 full page colour illustration (no. 3) Hilary Pyle, Jack B. Yeats - A Catalogue Raisonn? of the Oil Paintings, no. 397 page 361 vol I, full page illustration in colour p287 vol III Jazz Babies is a pivotal work in the development of Yeats's painting from his early realism to his late more expressionist approach. The extremely modern appearance of the painting was met with some puzzlement in Dublin when it was exhibited at the 1929 RHA. Dublin Opinion caricatured it albeit in a good humoured manner. Other commentators such as George Russell found themselves strangely drawn to Yeats's new style. ' I find myself fascinated as before by these mysterious pictures of Jack Yeats. I cannot rationalise my liking for them', he wrote. English critics were much more receptive when the work was shown in London in 1930. One spoke of Yeats's paintings of 'chance meetings or impressions derived from fleeting incidents in life, whose ephemeral temporality happened to leave a momentary imprint on his sensibility....'. The Spectator compared Yeats's vitality as a painter to that of the Austrian artist Oskar Kokoschka. Paintings which dealt with the excitement of modernity and the sense of the fleeting moment were well established in modern European art but in an Irish context, Jazz Babies presents a remarkably avant-garde image of contemporary life in Dublin in the late 1920s. The subject is part of a series of works which centre on Dublin and its inhabitants. Jazz Babies focuses on the world of consumerism, depicting people browsing in a shop. The centre of the composition opens onto a view of a counter where a record cover is on display. The lines of black stacked forms in the background suggest rows of hanging clothes. The group of customers is dominated by a well dressed man in a hat and a young woman who wears a black cloche and a fashionable sleeveless dress. She has a yellow armlet around her upper arm which holds in place a blue handkerchief. Specks of yellow on her costume, created by dabbing the paint brush directly onto the surface of the canvas, further highlight her significance. The self-possessed poses of the two central figures are contrasted by those of their fellow browsers whose cut-off features form a circle around them making them appear as bystanders, preoccupied by their own thoughts. The title Jazz Babies refers particularly to women whose lives were both curtailed and emancipated by the combined forces of modernity and conservatism in the Ireland of their day. According to a 1954 American Thesaurus of Slang in the Yeats's library in the Yeats Archive in the National Gallery, the term refers to 'lively and passionate young women'. A jazz baby was a pleasure seeker or a socially active woman. While the centre of the painting is dominated by a stylish young woman it is not primarily concerned with feminine display. The jarring rhythm of the brushstrokes in the work is reminiscent of the syncopation of jazz music. The diverse surface moves from the black rectangular shapes in the background, made from scraping the paint in a regular pattern, to the rich impasto of the figures in the foreground. This ebullient use of paint and the complexity of the composition proclaim the future direction of Yeats's painting. In addition the pioneering representation of urban Irish life makes Jazz Babies an extremely unusual and invigorating example of Yeats's work and of modern Irish art in general. Dr. R?is?n Kennedy September 2011 ****Footnotes below...add numbers George Russell, [AE], Irish Statesman, 13 April, 1929. P.G. Konody, 'Mr Jack B. Yeats's Pictures of Irish Life', Observer, 6 July 1930. Spectator, 5 July 1930.
Estimate EUR : €500,000.00 - €800,000.00
Auction Date : 05-12-2011

Description

JACK BUTLER YEATS RHA (1871-1957) Jazz Babies (1929) Oil on canvas, 61 x 91.5cms (24 x 36'') Signed Exhibited: Royal Hibernian Academy Annual Exhibition 1929, Dublin, cat. no. 87 Jack B. Yeats Exhibition, Alpine Club Gallery London, June-July 1930, cat. no. 7 Nicolson and Yeats Exhibition, The National Gallery London, January 1942, cat. no. 10 London China Aid Exhibition, London 1943 Jack B. Yeats Exhibition, The Victor Waddington Gallery, London, March 1973, cat. no. 3 Literature: Dublin Opinion May 1929 p73 (cartoon) Hilary Pyle, Jack B. Yeats exhibition catalogue, Waddington Gallery 1973 full page colour illustration (no. 3) Hilary Pyle, Jack B. Yeats - A Catalogue Raisonn? of the Oil Paintings, no. 397 page 361 vol I, full page illustration in colour p287 vol III Jazz Babies is a pivotal work in the development of Yeats's painting from his early realism to his late more expressionist approach. The extremely modern appearance of the painting was met with some puzzlement in Dublin when it was exhibited at the 1929 RHA. Dublin Opinion caricatured it albeit in a good humoured manner. Other commentators such as George Russell found themselves strangely drawn to Yeats's new style. ' I find myself fascinated as before by these mysterious pictures of Jack Yeats. I cannot rationalise my liking for them', he wrote. English critics were much more receptive when the work was shown in London in 1930. One spoke of Yeats's paintings of 'chance meetings or impressions derived from fleeting incidents in life, whose ephemeral temporality happened to leave a momentary imprint on his sensibility....'. The Spectator compared Yeats's vitality as a painter to that of the Austrian artist Oskar Kokoschka. Paintings which dealt with the excitement of modernity and the sense of the fleeting moment were well established in modern European art but in an Irish context, Jazz Babies presents a remarkably avant-garde image of contemporary life in Dublin in the late 1920s. The subject is part of a series of works which centre on Dublin and its inhabitants. Jazz Babies focuses on the world of consumerism, depicting people browsing in a shop. The centre of the composition opens onto a view of a counter where a record cover is on display. The lines of black stacked forms in the background suggest rows of hanging clothes. The group of customers is dominated by a well dressed man in a hat and a young woman who wears a black cloche and a fashionable sleeveless dress. She has a yellow armlet around her upper arm which holds in place a blue handkerchief. Specks of yellow on her costume, created by dabbing the paint brush directly onto the surface of the canvas, further highlight her significance. The self-possessed poses of the two central figures are contrasted by those of their fellow browsers whose cut-off features form a circle around them making them appear as bystanders, preoccupied by their own thoughts. The title Jazz Babies refers particularly to women whose lives were both curtailed and emancipated by the combined forces of modernity and conservatism in the Ireland of their day. According to a 1954 American Thesaurus of Slang in the Yeats's library in the Yeats Archive in the National Gallery, the term refers to 'lively and passionate young women'. A jazz baby was a pleasure seeker or a socially active woman. While the centre of the painting is dominated by a stylish young woman it is not primarily concerned with feminine display. The jarring rhythm of the brushstrokes in the work is reminiscent of the syncopation of jazz music. The diverse surface moves from the black rectangular shapes in the background, made from scraping the paint in a regular pattern, to the rich impasto of the figures in the foreground. This ebullient use of paint and the complexity of the composition proclaim the future direction of Yeats's painting. In addition the pioneering representation of urban Irish life makes Jazz Babies an extremely unusual and invigorating example of Yeats's work and of modern Irish art in general. Dr. R?is?n Kennedy September 2011 ****Footnotes below...add numbers George Russell, [AE], Irish Statesman, 13 April, 1929. P.G. Konody, 'Mr Jack B. Yeats's Pictures of Irish Life', Observer, 6 July 1930. Spectator, 5 July 1930.

Hammer Price : €480,000.00
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