The Sketchbooks of Jack B. Yeats

Jack B. Yeats, 'Wonderland Boxing Club', 1905. © Estate of Jack B Yeats. All rights reserved, DACS 2012. Photo © National Gallery of Ireland. 

‘The Sketchbooks of Jack B. Yeats 1897-1955’

2 February – 5 May 2013
Admission Free.

Samsung is a technology partner of the National Gallery of Ireland.

Jack B. Yeats’s personal sketchbooks from the National Gallery’s Yeats Archive will go on public view for the first time since they were presented in 1996 by the artist’s niece, Anne Yeats.

The National Gallery of Ireland holds 204 sketchbooks by Jack Yeats. Together, the sketchbooks include some 8000 sketched pages and 2000 manuscript pages by the artist. More than 150 of these sketches will be included in the exhibition, ‘The Sketchbooks of Jack B. Yeats 1897-1955’, from 2 February to 5 May 2013. Admission is free.

Sketching was an integral part of Yeats’s artistic practice and he drew regularly upon them for inspiration for both the subject matter and composition of his watercolour and oil paintings. The sketches in the Gallery’s collection are a visual record of his experience of rural and urban life in England and Ireland, as well as his travels in Europe and his journey to New York City in 1904.

In this exhibition, the sketchbooks are displayed in chronological order, covering the period 1897 to 1955. When viewed as a body of work, this remarkable visual archive provides a unique insight into both the private life and public work of the artist.

An accompanying illustrated catalogue ‘The Sketchbooks of Jack B. Yeats 1897-1955’ by Donal Maguire and Pauline Swords, includes new analysis and commentary on Yeats and his sketchbook collection. Published by the National Gallery of Ireland (Price €19.95).

Sean Rainbird, Director of the National Gallery of Ireland says: “As a barometer of his life at home, in theatres, at the circus or at the races, Yeats’s sketchbooks give us a most intimate insight into the thoughts and passions of one of the most important Irish artists of the twentieth century. It is with great pleasure therefore, that we present, for the first time, an exhibition of a significant collection of Yeats’s sketchbooks.”

The exhibition will be complemented by a digital presentation with Samsung Galaxy Tablets which will allow visitors to browse through 4 complete sketchbooks in addition to letters and photographs selected from the Yeats Archive.

Linda Nolan, Senior Marketing manager, Samsung Telecommunications & Network Ireland, said: “We are thrilled to announce our technology partnership with the National Gallery of Ireland. This union represents an important part of our continued effort to move into a new space as a technology solutions provider.”

“Globally, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is one of our most successful devices and provides and innovative solution giving visitors to the Gallery the interactive freedom to experience the exhibition in a whole new way. Our involvement with the Jack Yeats Sketchbooks exhibition as our first event of the partnership is very fitting given his place in history as one of Ireland’s most talented artistic figures,” she concluded.


The Yeats Collection
The Yeats collection in the National Gallery of Ireland is made up of 248 works in oils and works on paper by the Yeats family (John B., Jack B., Anne, Elizabeth, Susan, and William Butler Yeats). Jack B. Yeats is represented in the NGI collection with 134 formal works, of which 37 are oils.

The Yeats Archive
The Yeats Archive was gifted in 1996 to the National Gallery of Ireland by Anne Yeats (1919-2001). In addition to the 204 sketchbooks by Jack B. Yeats, the gift included circa 400 other original artworks, a large collection of the artists’ personal papers, his library, a collection of journals, theatre programmes, original manuscripts, photographs, postcards, as well as general memorabilia. Personal papers by his wife, Mary Cottenham White (Cottie), and material relating to Yeats’s sisters, Lily and Lolly, with Dun Emer and Cuala Industries, also featured in the Anne Yeats Gift. Material from the Yeats Archive can be consulted by appointment Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, email

Study Morning ‘The Yeats Family and Modern Ireland’ – Saturday 27 April 2013 (9.50am-1.30pm)