Bidding on this item has ended.
Jack B. Yeats THE LITTLE HORSE AT PLAY (1948)
Lot 13
Price Realised: €240,000
Estimate: €200,000 - €300,000
Jack Butler Yeats RHA, 1871-1957
THE LITTLE HORSE AT PLAY (1948)
Oil on board, 9" x 14" (22.8 x 35.5cm), signed.

Provenance: Victor Waddington, Dublin where purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Arnold (1948), and by descent; Christies, London 8th May 2008... Read more
Lot 13 - THE LITTLE HORSE AT PLAY (1948) by Jack B. Yeats RHA Lot 13 Jack B. Yeats THE LITTLE HORSE AT PLAY (1948)
Estimate: €200,000 - €300,000
Jack Butler Yeats RHA, 1871-1957
THE LITTLE HORSE AT PLAY (1948)
Oil on board, 9" x 14" (22.8 x 35.5cm), signed.

Provenance: Victor Waddington, Dublin where purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Arnold (1948), and by descent; Christies, London 8th May 2008; Private Collection.

Literature: H. Pyle, 'Jack B. Yeats: A Catalogue Raisonne of the Oil Paintings, Vol. II' no. 898, p.815 (London, 1992).

Although Jack B Yeats can be grouped internationally with the Expressionists, he fused this style with a strong Irish storytelling tradition. He returned again and again to deeply felt indigenous subjects that were at the heart of Irish life, the horse being a central motif. He depicted these with a passionate expressionist style, creating the most important Irish paintings of the modern era.  Paintings like The Little Horse at Play draw on his Sligo childhood memories, where horses and racing played a big part. For Yeats the horse seemed to symbolise the freedom of his childhood, with that sense of wild abandon made palpably visible in this painting.

This feeling of joyfulness and freedom is conveyed in each and every brushstroke, in the fluid swirls of the horse and in the more frenzied depiction of the foliage. Yeats leaves naturalistic colouring behind, preferring to unify the composition in a controlled palette of greens, blues and lemons—with dashes of pure yellow electrifying the surface. The horse is at one with the surrounding environment, in perfect sympathy with the onlooker and the vibrant external world it inhabits. The Little Horse at Play epitomises a moment of total exhilaration.

Dr Frances Ruane. ARHA, April 2021
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