John Butler Yeats Biography

Painter(1839–1922)
Painter John Butler Yeats was the father of poet William Butler Yeats and artist Jack Butler Yeats. His portrait of John O'Leary is considered his best work.

Synopsis

John Butler Yeats was born March 16, 1839, in Tullylish, Ireland. The father of poet William Butler Yeats and painter/illustrator Jack Butler Yeats, the artist's portrait of the former is one of his most famous; it is housed among others in the Yeats museum in the National Gallery of Ireland. His 1904 portrait of John O'Leary is considered to be his masterpiece. Yeats died in New York City on February 3, 1922.

Early Life

Born on March 16, 1839, in Tullylish, County Down, Ireland, John Butler Yeats attended Trinity College Dublin and studied law at King's Inn in Dublin. He was admitted to the bar in 1866, and had a short-lived career as a barrister before pursuing his love of drawing in 1867.

Commercial Success

Yeats went on to attend Heatherleys Art School in London, and his portraits were frequently commissioned. A poor businessman, however, he and his family were never financially secure. The father of poet William Butler Yeats and painter/illustrator Jack Butler Yeats, the artist's portrait of the former is one of his most famous; it is housed among others in the Yeats museum in the National Gallery of Ireland. His 1904 portrait of John O'Leary is considered to be his masterpiece.

Later Years

Yeats moved several times between England and Ireland throughout his life. At age 69, in 1907, he moved to New York City, where he lived for 14 years. While there, he roomed in a boarding house and communed with artists, intellectuals and writers, among them painters of the Ashcan School. Though he never returned to Ireland, Yeats stayed in contact with his family and friends through extensive correspondence.

John Butler Yeats died in New York City on February 3, 1922. He is buried in Chestertown.

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