Lot # 149
Art Canadien, Impressionniste et Moderne Live auction

Jack Butler Yeats
RHA 1871 - 1957 Irish

A Long Way to Go, Races at Devonshire
watercolour, gouache and pencil on card circa 1905
signed and on verso titled and inscribed "46"
7 x 10 1/4 pouces  17.8 x 26cm

Waddington Galleries, Montreal
Private Collection, Montreal

This dramatic watercolour, painted during the artist’s time in Devon, in South West England, captures the excitement of the local horse races. This was one sport amongst many which Jack Butler Yeats documented so successfully in his years as an illustrator for magazines such as Paddock Life. Yeats, the son of a famous portrait painter and brother of the poet W.B. Yeats, is regarded as one of Ireland’s greatest artists. His early work, such as this piece, is illustrative in style yet brimming with artistic flair. Here, the viewer is brought into the excitement of the race with a perspective from behind the horse, feeling as though they are urging the rider on. Yeats, the enthusiastic spectator, would have been quite at home amid the crowd, with just a small sketchbook in hand to capture this moment. The energy of the painting hints at what was to come in later works, when Yeats chose an Abstract Expressionist approach and developed an altogether different style, characterized by a thick application of oil paint and a mystical appreciation of his Irish heritage.

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