Jack Butler Yeats, R.H.A. (1871-1957)
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Jack Butler Yeats, R.H.A. (1871-1957)

A horseman enters a town at night

Jack Butler Yeats, R.H.A. (1871-1957)
A horseman enters a town at night
signed 'JACK B. YEATS' (lower left), inscribed 'HORSEMAN ENTERING A TOWN AT NIGHT' (on the inside of the stretcher bar)
oil on canvas
24 x 36 in. (61 x 91.5 cm.)
Painted in 1948.
Sold through Leo Smith in 1949 to Graham Greene, Paris, and by descent.
H. Pyle, Jack Butler Yeats A Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings Volume II, London, 1992, p. 816, no. 900.
Special notice
VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 17.5% on the buyer's premium.

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Lot Essay

Yeats produced just short of seventy paintings in 1948, quite an achievement for someone in their seventy-seventh year. His wife Cottie had died a year before and for a while after losing his greatest supporter the artist could not bring himself to paint, and his friends feared he would not do so again. Greadually he exorcised his pain and loneliness by completing a number of emotive pictures, and resumed his attempts to illustrate so many of his assembled memories. He explained his motivation: 'The true artist has painted his picture because he wishes to hold again for his pleasure - and for always - a moment, and because he is impelled by his human affections to pass on the moment to his fellows and to those who come after him' ('A Painter's Life', The Listener, 1 September 1937).

In A horseman enters a town at night a weary traveller, slumped on his steed, walks through an empty street perhaps in search of an inn or somewhere to rest up before continuing his journey in the morning. The horse which symbolized loyalty, intelligence and freedom to Yeats carries the rider, it's head turned slightly, possibly being drawn to a noise or a light showing they are not alone on their journey. Even, very late at night, there is still life behind the wall of the deserted streets.

In 1948 there was a large exhibition of Yeats' work at Tate Gallery London, where he finally achieved international recognition after a long artistic journey that he had started as an illustrator in the 1890s.

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