Centenary of the birth of Anne Yeats

 

Sir, – Today (February 26th) marks the centenary of the birth of the artist Anne Yeats.

In addition to being a gifted painter, Yeats was an art administrator and, through her work as a founder member of the Irish Exhibition of Living Art (IELA, founded 1943), she played a pivotal role in the development of modernism in Irish art. A founder member of the Graphic Studio Dublin, she was involved also with the Society of Dublin Painters (established 1922), the Cultural Relations Committee (1949), and the Arts Council (1951). In 1981, she was honoured by her peers with election to the newly formed Aosdána.

In her early career Anne Yeats was a stage set and costume designer with the Abbey Theatre. From 1941, she pursued a painting career, and was a regular exhibitor both in solo and group exhibitions. Yeats attained, especially during the 1950s and 1960s, a high reputation in Ireland and abroad. She also worked as a book illustrator and teacher. As her career progressed, she developed a distinct style of her own. Her later years were preoccupied with the “Yeats industry” and the revival of the Cuala Press, which finally closed its doors in 1986.

Anne Yeats’s final years bore witness to a late flowering in her work which embodied a lifetime of experiment. This culminated in a series of wonderfully meditative “blue” paintings, notably Curlews in a Storm (1991/2); Call Down the Hawk (1992, Trinity College Dublin); Sunlit Reeds (1994, Arts Council of Ireland); and Green Cloth Floating (1993, National Gallery of Ireland). Yeats’s Women and Washing, Sicily (1966), also in the National Gallery of Ireland collection (Yeats Room), illustrates an earlier work in a quite different vein.

Anne Yeats was an artist of erudition, talent and significance in the history of 20th-century Irish art, and deserves recognition on this, her 100th birthday. – Yours, etc,

VALERIE

ALEXANDER,

Dublin 14.