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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)
Jack Butler Yeats, R.H.A. (1871-1957)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more THE B.J. EASTWOOD COLLECTION: IMPORTANT SPORTING AND IRISH ART
Jack Butler Yeats, R.H.A. (1871-1957)

Now

Details
Jack Butler Yeats, R.H.A. (1871-1957)
Now
signed 'JACK. B. YEATS' (lower right), inscribed '"NOW''' (on the reverse), inscribed again twice 'NOW' (on the inside of the stretcher)
oil on canvas
36 x 48 in. (91.4 x 121.9 cm.)
Painted in 1941.
Provenance
with Victor Waddington, London.
Mr and Mrs Walter Bick, Toronto, by 1971.
Acquired by B.J. Eastwood in November 1994.
Literature
Exhibition catalogue, Jack B. Yeats, London, Waddington Galleries, 1963, n.p., no. 16, illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Jack B. Yeats: Paintings, Dublin, Dawson Gallery, 1966, n.p., no. 13, illustrated.
T.G. Rosenthal, Jack B Yeats, London, 1966, n.p., no. 8, pl. XII.
Exhibition catalogue, Jack B. Yeats: Oil Paintings, London, Victor Waddington, 1967, n.p., no. 11, illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Jack B. Yeats: Retrospective Exhibition, Montreal, Waddington Fine Arts, 1969, n.p., no. 10, illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Jack Butler Yeats: Paintings, Toronto, Hart House Gallery, 1971, n.p., exhibition not numbered, illustrated.
J. White, Jack B. Yeats: Drawings and Paintings, London, 1971, pp. 93, 153, no. 85, illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Jack B Yeats: A Centenary Exhibition, Dublin, National Gallery of Ireland, 1971, pp. 93, 153, no. 85, illustrated.
H. Pyle, Jack B. Yeats: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings, Vol. I, London, 1992, p. 481, no. 522, illustrated.
H. Pyle, Jack B. Yeats: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings, Vol. III, London, 1992, p. 224, no. 522, illustrated.
T.G. Rosenthal, The Art of Jack B. Yeats, London, 1993, pp. 199, 300, pl. 177.
B. Arnold, Jack Yeats, New Haven and London, 1998, pp. 314, 328.
Exhibited
Dublin, Royal Hibernian Academy, 1942, no. 24.
London, Wildenstein, Jack B. Yeats: Oil Paintings, February - March 1946, no. 2.
Southport, Atkinson Art Gallery, 55th Spring Exhibition of Modern Art, March 1946, exhibition not numbered.
Boston, Institute of Contemporary Art, A First Retrospective American Exhibition, March 1951, exhibition not numbered: this exhibition travelled to Washington D.C., Phillips Gallery, 1951; San Francisco, M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, 1952; Colorado Springs, Fine Art Centre, 1952; Toronto, Art Gallery, 1952; Detroit, Institute of Arts, 1952; and New York, National Academy, 1952.
York, City Art Gallery, Jack B. Yeats: An Exhibition of Oil Paintings, 1960, no. 25.
London, Waddington Galleries, Jack B. Yeats, March - April 1963, no. 16.
Dublin, Dawson Gallery, Jack B. Yeats: Paintings, June - July 1966, no. 13.
London, Victor Waddington, Jack B. Yeats: Oil Paintings, September - October 1967, no. 11.
Montreal, Waddington Fine Arts, Jack B. Yeats: Retrospective Exhibition, March - April 1969, no. 10.
Toronto, Hart House Gallery, Jack Butler Yeats: Paintings, February 1971, exhibition not numbered: this exhibition travelled to Montreal, Museum of Fine Arts, 1971.
Dublin, National Gallery of Ireland, Jack B. Yeats: A Centenary Exhibition, September - December 1971, no. 85: this exhibition travelled to Belfast, Ulster Museum, January - February 1972; and New York, Cultural Centre, April - June 1972.
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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Nathaniel Nicholson
Nathaniel Nicholson Associate Director, Specialist

Lot Essay


This large ambitious painting was made in the early years of the Second World War when Jack B. Yeats, then aged 70, was about to achieve commercial and critical success as Ireland’s leading artist as well as receiving serious attention in the British art world. Now exemplifies the monumentality of his later work. John Rothenstein contemplated buying it for the Tate Gallery in 1945 (B. Arnold, Jack Yeats, New Haven and London, 1998, p. 328).

Now encapsulates the illusory world of theatre and performance that Yeats was so concerned with in his work. Apart from painting, he also wrote several plays. Three of them, The Silencer, Harlequins Positions and In Sand were produced in various Dublin theatres between 1939 and 1949. Yeats was an inveterate theatre-goer throughout his life. Now draws on Yeats’s memory of circus and variety performances of the past but its title suggests the immediacy of the performance and its direct and continuing relevance to the spectator. The title may have some relevance to the war itself, from which the Irish Free State remained neutral. It depicts a theatrical show in an enormous old fashioned theatre with what appears to be an open roof but which could be interpreted as an exaggerated depiction of an elaborately decorated ceiling. The painted landscapes along the interior wall to the left at the rear of the auditorium have a similar ambiguous effect that seem to permeate the fabric of the building and open it to nature and the outside world. In the left foreground the conductor strikes up the music. The heads of the orchestra players are just visible above the front of the stage below him. The master of ceremonies dressed in formal attire, with his top hat in hand, gets proceedings underway on stage. The act, constrained into the lower right of the composition, is like a circus entertainment with horses being driven at speed across the boards. A groom in a dark blue costume holds their reins. Balanced on the back of one of the steeds, is the statuesque form of a golden haired woman. She wears a long blue dress and holds aloft a staff. Although she is in the position of the Haute Ecole rider, whose great act was to stand on the racing horse, this figure appears ethereal and more like an apparition than a real woman or a circus performer.

Much of the composition is devoted to the tiered seating of the auditorium which extends across the space. Filled with the unfathomable faces of the audience, it evokes the anticipation and excitement of live theatre. The bowed figure of the conductor with his baton held aloft acts as a bridge between the darkened world of the spectator and that of the bizarre activities on stage. The light from the opened ceiling illuminates this central part of the composition, reflecting light on the red and yellows of the musicians’ heads and the edge of the orchestra pit behind them. The delicate construction of the scenery and the narrow setting for the performance is made of cold blues and purples differentiating it from the rest of the composition. The great curving forms of the architecture of the theatre encourage a sense of movement and change. One of Yeats’s most enigmatic paintings, Now evokes a world where anything may happen and where anything is possible. When exhibited at the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1942 it provoked great interest and was praised by the artist, Mainie Jellett for its ‘brilliant colour and artistic feeling’ (B. Arnold, Jack Yeats, New Haven and London, 1998, p. 314).

Dr Róisín Kennedy

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