Oil painting of spectators crowding along the quays of the River Liffey watching a swimming race
Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957), The Liffey Swim, 1923. Photo © National Gallery of Ireland.Credit

The Liffey Swim by Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)

61 x 91 cm
Oil on canvas
Presented, Trustees of the Haverty Trust, 1931

In this painting, Yeats captures the atmosphere and thrill of an event that has been part of Dublin’s annual sporting calendar since 1920. His depiction of the occasion also represents a return to the sporting themes that had inspired much of his early work. He invites his audience to engage with the event by placing them among the spectators, who lean forward to catch a glimpse of the swimmers as they surge towards the finish line. The painting marked Yeats’s growing interest in Expressionism and his adoption of fluid brushwork and a charged palette.