John Butler Yeats (1839-1922)
Portrait of John O'Leary (1830-1907), Fenian.
Oil on canvas, 91 x 71 cm
Presented, National Literary Society, 1908
This portrait of John O’Leary, the second by John Butler Yeats, was commissioned by the National Literary Society. A republican and the President of the Supreme Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, O’Leary was born in Tipperary. He was associated with the Young Ireland movement and took part in the Rising of 1848, for which he was imprisoned for a short time. He settled in Paris following his release. He opposed both the ‘New Departure’ and the Land League, and became increasingly disillusioned with Fenianism. Committing himself more to literary and journalistic pursuits, he worked as joint editor of The Irish People, and was imprisoned on the suppression of the newspaper in 1865. John Butler Yeats painted many distinguished Irish men and women of the day. He was father of the poet W.B. Yeats, the painter Jack B. Yeats and Lily and Lolly Yeats, who are important in the history of the arts and crafts movement in Ireland at the turn of the last century.
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