42 28 Jack Butler Yeats RHA (1871-1957) THE CIRCUS, 1919 ink and watercolour signed lower right 8.25 by 6.75in. (21 by 17.1cm) Frame Dimensions: 18 by 16in. (45.7 by 40.6cm) Excellent condition. Provenance: Stephen’s Green Gallery, Dublin, 1921; Collection of W. A. Cadbury; Sotheby’s, The Irish Sale, London, 18 May 2000, lot 141; Private collection Exhibited: ‘Drawings and Pictures of Life in the West of Ireland’, Stephen’s Green Gallery, Dublin, 19 February to 4 March 1921, catalogue no. 20 Literature: Pyle, Hilary, The Different Worlds of Jack B. Yeats: His Cartoons and Illustrations, Irish Academic Press, Dublin, 1994, catalogue no. 1271, p. 174 The circus was a recurring theme in nineteenth century European art with artists such as Manet, Seurat, Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec all depicting circuses and performers with an intense dynamism. The growth in leisure time for the wealthy throughout the nineteenth century increased the popularity of the circus. For artists, the circus represented a time when real life was suspended and audiences gave themselves up to magic and illusion. Many of these artists, including Jack B. Yeats, identified strongly with the figure of the clown. Much of Yeats’ works suggest that he used the clown persona to explore feelings of isolation and alienation that he may have felt came with the creative way of life. Yeats’ examination of the tragicomic figure of the clown can be seen in a number of works such as Johnny Patterson Singing “Bridget Donoghue” (1928), They Love me (1947), Glory (1946) and perhaps most poignantly, in Alone (1944). Many of these works are based on the famous Irish performer Johnny Patterson. Patterson had success in the USA with Barnum’s Circus before returning to Ireland. While Patterson was greatly celebrated for his performances, his troubled private life was also well documented. Yeats went to see Patterson perform when he was a child growing up in Sligo and it is likely that the duality of Patterson’s persona was something that captured the imagination of the young artist. Patterson’s political beliefs were often expressed in the songs he wrote and performed. One song entitled ‘Do the Best for one and Other’ urged Protestants and Catholics to put their differences aside and unite behind Charles Stuart Parnell and tragically, Johnny was killed by an angry mob during a performance of this song. Catalogue introduction to Jack Yeats – Enter The Clowns, The Model, Sligo, 2013. €12,000-€18,000 (£10,340-£15,520 approx.) Click here for more images and to bid on this lot28