Visitors signed 'JACK B YEATS' (lower right) and titled 'VISITORS' (verso) oil on board 22.8 x 35.6 cm. (9 x 14 in.) Painted in 1946
PROVENANCE: With Victor Waddington Galleries, Dublin, 1946 Private Collection Sale; James Adams & Sons, Dublin, 20 May 1975, lot 275 With Cynthia O'Connor Gallery, Dublin Sale; James Adams & Sons, Dublin, 17 May 1990, lot 25 Private Collection, Ireland
EXHIBITED: Dublin, Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery, Yeats at the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, 26 June-15 October 1988, cat.no.8 (ill.) Dublin, Cynthia O'Connor Gallery, An Exhibition of 20th Century Irish Paintings for Christmas, 8-21 December 1988, cat.no.8 (ill.b&w)
LITERATURE: Hilary Pyle, Jack B. Yeats, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings, Volume II, Andre Deutsch, London, 1992 (ill.b&w)
The Visitors in the title of the work refers to an almost incidental part of this fresh bright landscape. In the upper right hand corner of the painting the shape of a Georgian house is evident with figures in black standing before it. These are the visitors but their significance and that of the grand house to which they have come are eclipsed by the vibrancy of the lake and bank in the foreground. The elements of the panorama are sculpted in pale greens and blues. Thick white clouds are reflected in the surface of the water and the bright light bleaches the grass and distant trees. The sharp, pointed forms of the rushes growing out of the peaty soil in the right hand foreground are vigorously painted in deep greens, blues, purples and reds. This passage provides a contrast to the surrounding composition.
Hilary Pyle has suggested that the house in the background may be that of Coole Park in Co. Galway, the legendary home of Lady Gregory. Yeats who was a close friend of Lady Gregory's son, Robert, had often visited it as a young man. His sketchbooks of the early 1900s contain many images of the parkland of Coole and the surrounding countryside. Robert Gregory was killed in World War One and his mother died in 1932. The house was completely demolished in 1941 although its extensive grounds and famous lake remain. In The Visitors, Yeats may be coming to terms with the history of Coole Park but as in other of his late paintings emotional recollections and a sense of nostalgia are conveyed through the representation of nature rather than specific individuals. The Visitors emphasizes the continuity of nature, setting human history and endeavour within a universal sense of time and space.
We are grateful to Dr. Roisin Kennedy for compiling this catalogue entry.