Iconic Yeats Painting Part of National Collection

A work by one of Ireland’s best-known artists, Jack B. Yeats, is now part of the national collection of the National Gallery of Ireland.

Baccalaureate walk, In memory was purchased by the Gallery with special and generous support from the Government of Ireland and key contributions from several donors.

Painting bydepicts an incident in Dublin city center in 1914 in which a detachment of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers opened fire on a crowd of demonstrators. Three people were killed (a fourth died later) and more than 35 were injured. Earlier in the day in question, soldiers and officers of the Dublin Metropolitan Police and the Royal Irish Constabulary had intercepted volunteers and members of Na Fianna carrying a consignment of rifles and ammunition who had arrived in Howth earlier aboard the yacht The Asgard. News trickled down to Dublin, where a hostile crowd accosted the soldiers on their return to the barracks.

Yeats painted only a handful of paintings that dealt directly with contemporary politics or current affairs. Baccalaureate walk, In memory is one of the most striking and important of them.

The artist did not witness the event but was obviously deeply affected by it. He visited the next day and based the painting on a sketch he produced there. He noted “a bullet hole in a store window” and recorded that “a few steps further towards the O’Connell Bridge, flower girls had thrown flowers”.

The painting was not seen publicly until 1922, when it was shown alongside other works by Yeats at the Irish Art Exhibition in Paris. The work has been on long-term loan to the Museum for twelve years. It has now been purchased by the Gallery with the support of the Irish government and private donors. The acquisition of such an important political work during the Centennial Decade is particularly significant.

Baccalaureate walk, In memory is on display in the Millennium Wing of the National Gallery of Ireland. Entry to the national collection is free for all to learn and be inspired.

Learn more about www.nationalgallery.ie.

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