Finding Cottie

Mary Cottenham Yeats and Jack B Yeats en route to New York, 1904 Courtesy of the Yeats Archive at the NGI Photo © NGI

 

Rosemarie Devereux paints a picture of Mary Cottenham Yeats as a talented, resourceful artist in a variety of media

Though she was an accomplished artist in her own right, very little has been written about Jack B Yeats’ (1871-1957) wife, Mary Cottenham (1867-1947). However, her archive in the National Gallery of Ireland offers a fascinating insight into her personality and a rare glimpse behind the scenes of Jack and Cottie’s life together. The memorabilia and ephemera contained within attest to Cottie’s pragmatic approach to life and shed light on the preoccupations and distractions of a young artist. Along with material she possessed relating to her beloved Jack – her archive contains proof of her own artistic talent evidenced through its many drawings, prints and sketchbooks. To date, however, Cottie Yeats has been confined to the periphery of the great Yeats dynasty where she remains unheralded to this day.

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