Portrait of a family

John Butler Yeats SELF-PORTRAIT, NEW YORK

Hilary Pyle visits the Model in Sligo where the recent generosity of an anonymous donor has helped complete the picture of that most accomplished Yeats family

The Victorians, with their emphasis on sound education for all, were very good at producing literary families of note, generally a group of gifted siblings gathered around an acknowledged genius. In the case of the Yeatses, living in the latter half of the 19th century in what was the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and domiciled intermittingly between Dublin, London and Sligo, the gift extended beyond wielding words, entering into the visual arts. The extraordinary genius shared by the four children and their father, who acknowledged the role his silent wife played in the parenting when he said that, by marriage with the Pollexfens, he had ‘given tongue to the sea cliffs’.

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