PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS AN OLD MAN John Butler Yeats: Letters from New York.
Presented by Cecily O’Neill
2022 is the centenary of the death of the Irish artist and writer John Butler Yeats, who died in New York on February 3rd, 1922.
In December 1907, he travelled to America with his daughter Lily and stayed there for the rest of his life. In his struggle to make a living as an artist and writer, he was supported financially by John Quinn, the American lawyer and art collector. In 1911 Quinn gave him a commission for a self portrait.
During his years in New York, John Butler Yeats (JBY) wrote countless letters to his family and friends. JBY also wrote regularly to Rosa Butt, daughter of the Irish politician Isaac Butt. He and Rosa had agreed that they would read and immediately destroy each other’s letters. But Rosa carefully saved every letter from her ‘dear old lover’. These intimate letters were only released to the public in 1982, and are stored in the Bodleian library in Oxford. Extracts from these unpublished letters are a feature of this presentation.
John Butler Yeats died in his lodging-house at 317 W.20th Street, aged 82, New York, still working on his self-portrait. It was February 3rd, 1922, exactly eleven years to the day since John Quinn had commissioned the painting.
The presentation will happen at the Gregory-Yeats Autumn Gathering at Coole Park, 24 & 25th September, 2022, with the presentation happening both days. Cecily is joined by local Galway actor, Gerry Conneely, in the role of JB Yeats.