Drawing Inspiration: John Butler Yeats (1839-1922)

Pencil drawing of W.B. Yeats
John Butler Yeats (1839-1922), William Butler Yeats (1865-1839), Poet, 1886. Photo © National Gallery of Ireland.Credit

John Butler Yeats (1839-1922), William Butler Yeats (1865-1839), Poet, 1886

John Butler Yeats made this portrait of his son William when the poet was aged twenty-one. He is shown deep in thought, with his hands clasped in his lap. His face is sensitively drawn and his eye gleams. The rest of the sketch is built up with firm strokes of thick, soft lead. 

John Butler Yeats filled sketchbooks with drawings of his friends and family. The Irish poet Padraic Colum recounted how Yeats would bring his sketchbook to dinner and sketch the people around him while engaging in lively conversations about art and literature.

Activity idea: Sketching a family member, or a person in your household (if they let you), is a great way to practice life-drawing skills!

You'll find more information about this drawing in our online collection