'Mrs Best at the piano'

John Butler Yeats, ‘Mrs Best at the piano’, 1907

John Butler Yeats (Tullylish, Co. Down 1839 - 1922 New York)
Mrs Best at the piano, 1907 

Graphite on paper
Bequeathed, Dr R.I. Best, the sitter's husband, 1959
NGI 3310

‘Gabriel could not listen while Mary Jane was playing her Academy piece, full of runs and difficult passages, to the hushed drawing room.’
The Dead, p.209*

Edith Best née Oldham (1868-1950) was a talented pianist who, with her husband Dr Richard Best, organised the Dublin Feis Ceoil musical event for many years. Yeats, who was a friend of the couple, depicts Mrs Best at a concert piano, engrossed in her playing. In 1959 Dr Best bequeathed their collection of Irish paintings to the National Gallery of Ireland. The collection included Jack Yeats’s painting ‘In the tram’, on display in this show.


*Please note: page numbers cited in the labels refer to The O’Brien Press 2012 edition of Dubliners by James Joyce, published to coincide with the ‘One City, One Book’ festival 2012. This edition is for sale in the NGI Shop.

Find out more about the Dublin: One City, One Book festival, an initiative of Dublin City Public Libraries