Grief


Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)
Grief, 1951

Oil on canvas, 102 x 153
Purchased, 1965
NGI.1769

Grief, painted when Yeats was exploring particular human emotion in his work, is one of the artist’s largest and most-celebrated paintings. The picture, which may have been derived from an original sketch entitled Let there be no more war, can be read then as an anti-war statement, akin to Picasso's Guernica.In the picture, rows of soldiers with rifles and bayonets surround a rider on horseback who raises one arm in the air as if to lead a charge. In the foreground, a woman dressed in blue comforts a blond baby. To the left of that pair, an old man, bent double, reaches out his hands in despair. Yeats has applied paint thickly but sparingly on the canvas, and has employed vivid colour to great emotional effect. While the indigo blue suggests sadness, the yellows and reds point to more heightened emotions.

View a selection of paintings from the Yeats Collection