A Lifelong Collaboration

Thomas MacGreevy and Jack B. Yeats's personal and professional relationship lasted a lifetime. From the time they met in 1921 at one of Sarah Purser's at homes, until Yeats's death in 1957, the two men maintained a warm friendship, and admiration for each other's intellect, creative work, and opinions. In time, MacGreevy would become one of Yeats's most eloquent and sustained champions: publishing over seven articles, a book, and numerous exhibition reviews on Yeats's art.

Yeats must have recognised in MacGreevy a kindred spirit when he read MacGreevy's 1924 article in The Klaxon, 'Mamie [sic] Jellet and Dublin Criticism', as two years later Yeats approached MacGreevy to write an article on his work in connection with an exhibition of his paintings in London. Over the next twenty years, Yeats asked MacGreevy over and over to explain to what was for many years a largely unreceptive public, his changing aesthetic. During that time Yeats never told MacGreevy how to interpret his work, nor expressed displeasure at anything MacGreevy wrote (he did, however, send MacGreevy a letter correcting what he viewed as factual errors in MacGreevy's manuscript Jack B Yeats: an Appreciation and an Interpretation which is reproduced in this collection).

After Yeats's death in 1957, MacGreevy worked tirelessly to promote the artist's work, as an executor of his will, and as Chairman of the 1962 Venice Biennale Committee which featured Yeats’s late paintings. MacGreevy never turned down an invitation to open a Yeats exhibition no matter where it was in Ireland, no matter how poor his health.

This collection, Thomas MacGreevy and Jack B. Yeats: An Online Broad Sheet explores the relationship of these two extraordinary men who shared a love of Ireland, a love of art, and the belief that Irish art was worthy of being judged alongside anything produced in continental Europe. This collection serves two purposes: the first is to gather all of MacGreevy's writing on Yeats. The second is to examine their personal and professional relationship through a series of contemporary articles written by members of the MacGreevy Archive team. To this end, Christopher Baran's three short essays explore the political and historical background of the three paintings MacGreevy wrote most frequently about, The Funeral of Harry Boland, Bachelor's Walk: In Memory, and Communicating With Prisoners, and Susan Schreibman and Elizabeth Tobey's two articles, 'It would give me a great deal of pleasure. . . ': Thomas MacGreevy's Writings on Jack B Yeats, and The 1962 Venice Biennale explore aspects of their professional relationship. To view the texts, simply follow the browse mode link on this page.