Adam's, 12 December 1975, lot 24;
Thomas Adams, Blackrock;
Where purchased by private treaty by the present owner
The public house was a significant setting in Yeats' work. Like other liminal spaces associated with modernity such as the railway carriage, the theatre, the tram and the shop, it was a place in which one could survey men and women engaged in social interaction. The interest was not in alcohol but on how this space provided an intimate and familiar setting for its clientele. Some of Yeats' early oils that feature pub interiors include The Railway Bar (1924, Private Collection) and The Bar (1925, Private Collection). In the mid 1940s he painted several interiors of public houses such as Bartender Reading a Letter (1943, Private Collection), The Quiet Man (1943, Private Collection) and Man Reading, (1945, Private Collection). All, like The Man with the Wrinkled Face, are daytime scenes in which patrons and bar staff enjoy the tranquillity of a quiet watering hole.
This work is painted in a very distinctive manner that both adds to its narrative quality and conversely foregrounds the materiality of the work. The complex way in which it is constructed invites close scrutiny. The paint is thinly applied in areas, most notably in the depiction of the counter and floor where the pigment has been scrapped back in imitation of wooden boards. The most intriguing part of the work is the face of the wrinkled man. The dense sculptural way in which it has been made makes the right eye appear distorted or immobilised. In contrast to this complexity, the black bow tie stands out as an independent, three-dimensional motif. In trying to resolve these contradictions, the viewer is compelled to see the painting as a painting first and foremost rather than as a legible image.
Dr Róisín Kennedy
- Auction Details
Continuing a very encouraging upward trend in the art market, this auction was extremely successful, with 85% selling rate and a gross sales total of €1.7 million. Some of the notable results were lot 25, Jack Yeats THE MAN WITH WRINKLED FACE at €245,000, 55 Louis le Brocquy IMAGE OF SAMUEL BECKETT €200,000, 22 Margaret Clarke SELF PORTRAIT €48,000, 15 Paul Henry MOUNTAINOUS LANDSCAPE €44,000, 73 Basil Blackshaw RACEHORSE €40,000, 8 Nathaniel Hone STORMY COAST €30,000, 80 Rowan Gillespie LADDER OF LIFE €30,000 and 13 Aloysius O’Kelly FISHING BOATS AT CONCARNEAU €22,000.
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