The Singing Horseman
Jack B. Yeats, The Singing Horseman © Estate of Jack B. Yeats, DACS London/IVARO Dublin, 2019. Photo © National Gallery of IrelandCredit

'The Singing Horseman' by Jack B. Yeats

61.4 x 92 cm
Oil on canvas
Bequeathed, Máire MacNeill Sweeney, 1987

Stop 10 on the First Fortnight Art Trail

Many of Yeats’s paintings reveal that he was attuned to life’s difficulties. However, in other paintings, such as The Singing Horseman, he expressed heightened states of positive emotion, focusing on themes such as the inspirational potential of music.

In this painting, and in About to Write a Letter, Yeats applied the paint in thick, visible layers - a technique known as impasto - and employed non-naturalistic colours. However, in The Singing Horseman, the atmosphere of gloom and anxiety has been replaced by one of overwhelming positivity. Yeats depicted a young man riding a horse through a field as he clasps his hands over his breast, throws his head back, and sings aloud. As in many of his later works, including At the Fair and For the Road, Yeats adopted the motif of the horse to add to the intensity of the emotional charge of his painting.

On display in Room 14, Milltown Wing, Level 1


About First Fortnight Festival

First Fortnight is a charity that challenges mental health prejudice through arts and cultural action. In January 2019, the National Gallery of Ireland is offering an education and engagement programme of events focusing on mindfulness and mental health. This Art Trail is part of the programme. See the full programme of First Fortnight events at the Gallery