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JACK BUTLER YEATS, R.H.A. (1871-1957)
JACK BUTLER YEATS, R.H.A. (1871-1957)
JACK BUTLER YEATS, R.H.A. (1871-1957)
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JACK BUTLER YEATS, R.H.A. (1871-1957)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN
JACK BUTLER YEATS, R.H.A. (1871-1957)

Until We Meet Again

JACK BUTLER YEATS, R.H.A. (1871-1957)
Until We Meet Again
signed 'JACK B./YEATS' (lower left), inscribed three times 'UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN' (on the inside of the stretcher and on the canvas overlap)
oil on canvas
18 x 24 in. (44.5 x 59.5 cm.)
Painted in 1949.
Purchased by Mrs Oliver Chesterton, London, in 1950.
Private collection, UK.
Purchased from the above by the present owner in 2013.
H. Pyle, Jack B. Yeats: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings, Vol II, London, 1992, p. 903, no. 999, illustrated.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Angus Granlund
Angus Granlund Director, Head of Evening Sale

Lot Essay

‘The true artist has painted the picture because he wishes to hold again for his own pleasure – and for always – a moment, and because he is impelled … by his human affection to pass on the moment to his fellows, and to those that come after him’
-Jack B. Yeats

Painted in 1949, When We Meet Again, personifies Jack Butler Yeats’ wonderfully expressionistic style of the late 1940s when he created some of his most sought after paintings. Characterised by dynamic brushstrokes and thick impasto, Yeats's treatment of the medium can readily be compared to the paintings of his European Expressionist contemporaries, most notably the work of his good friend, Oskar Kokoschka. With background, horse, and human merging and dissolving into one another, Until We Meet Again takes on an almost visionary or dream-like quality. It has been suggested that the wealth of emotion in the gestures and expressions within this picture are representative of the reflections on mortality of an ageing artist, affected by the death of his wife, Cottie, who died in 1947, and the death of his brother and sister in 1948 and 1949 respectively, as well as by the war which had ended only a few years earlier. The title of this painting, Until We Meet Again, may be a further indication of this.

Until We Meet Again depicts a quiet moment of intimacy between the male figure and his equine companion. The artist has chosen to focus in on the subject matter and thus incorporate the viewer closely into the pictorial space. This proximity not only grants an added sense of tenderness but lends a more abstract quality to the painting. Yeats crops his composition so that it focuses exclusively upon the head and shoulders of the man – who is partially turned away from the viewer – and the horse's head, as they face one another. Behind the figure is a loosely depicted landscape, with suggestions of the sea in the middle distance. Compositionally, this painting can be likened to an earlier picture executed by Yeats in 1936, titled The Eye of Affection (private collection; see H. Pyle, no. 475), in which only part of the head of the horse is depicted, as seen here, and it may well have been a source of inspiration to the artist.

The enigmatic relationship between horse and human, as depicted in this work, was a theme which continually fascinated Yeats throughout his career as an artist. Reared in the Irish countryside, he credited his love for animals, especially the horse, to his rural upbringing in Sligo. Comparable works of this period, such as Come, 1948 (sold in these Rooms, 9 March 1990, lot 261); Youth, 1946 (private collection); Age, 1943 (private collection); and The View, 1949 (private collection), likewise show Yeats's interest in, and exploration of, this subject matter. But possibly the work that can be emotionally most closely associated with Until We Meet Again is My Beautiful, My Beautiful, 1953 (private collection), which uses the same close framing of the horse and its owner, set eye to eye, to convey with great pathos and sensitivity the heightened emotion of the moment.

Until We Meet Again can be seen as a metaphor of the deep spiritual kinship that exists between horse and man, at the meeting point of land and ocean, looking past the material realm of the everyday to a world beyond where they can be reunited. Hilary Pyle comments: 'As he grew older, Yeats' landscapes became progressively more visionary, so that earth, water, air and light seemed all to reach some metaphysical plane where the physical world is allied with the heavenly. The landscapes are still recognisably Irish in their colouring, and in their changeable weather ... But emotionally Yeats seemed to gather up the countryside which he had studied in detail as a young man, and transform through a personal ecstasy this land he loved so deeply’ (H. Pyle, Yeats, Portrait of an Artistic Family, London, 1997, p. 260).

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