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Jack Butler Yeats, b.1871

St Stephen’s Green, Closing Time1950

This painting was created towards the end of Yeats’s career when his style had become very loose and dynamic. The painting depicts two figures sitting on a bench in St. Stephen’s Green at twilight. One appears to be sitting on the arm of the bench while the other squats beside them. The eminent closure of the park indicated by the title contrasted with the demeanour of the seated figures to create a sense of tension and expectancy within the work.

Paint is applied in fast, broad brushstrokes directly to the canvas using a dry brush technique which leaves the surface and texture of the canvas visible to form the background of the painting through the painted foliage. Small amounts of thick white impasto paint indicate a source of light above the figures and create a diagonal of light which draws the viewer’s eye to the centre of painting, to the figures and upwards to the source of the light. The elegiac note in the painting, suggested by the fading daylight and the departing figures, is enlightened by tiny passages of colourful grass and flowers.

MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions36 x 53.5 cm
Credit LineIMMA Collection: Heritage Gift by Brian Timmons, 2002
Item NumberIMMA.1578
Not on view
Image Caption
Jack Butler Yeats, St Stephen’s Green, Closing Time, 1950, Oil on canvas, 36 x 53.5 cm, Collection Irish Museum of Modern Art, Heritage Gift by Brian Timmons, 2002

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About the Artist

Jack Butler Yeats 1871–1957

Irish painter Jack Butler Yeats was born in London and grew up in Sligo with his maternal grandparents before returning to London in 1887 to live with his parents. He briefly attended the Government School of Design and the Westminster School of Art and went on to work as an illustrator for sporting periodicals and newspapers. A visit to the west of Ireland in 1898 inspired his first solo exhibition 'Sketches of Life in the West of Ireland'. It would remain his theme for much of his artistic career. By 1910 he had moved permanently to Ireland, living in Greystones, Co. Wicklow and later Dublin. Yeats was elected a member of the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1916. His painting ‘The Liffey Swim’ won a silver medal at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris. The broad fluid brushstrokes of that work mark the change in his technique during the 1920s, from that decade his work became more expressive and experimental. Yeats's work is held in numerous national collections including IMMA, the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, Crawford Art Gallery and the Model, Sligo. — View Artist »