Chest, Coffer, 17 Century, English, Oak, John Butler Yeats, William Butler Yeats



A mid-17th century transitional oak chest, from the collection of John Butler Yeats & the Yeats family by descent This charming chest has an exceptional provenance coming by descent from the collection of John Butler Yeats the artists who is best known for his portraits many of which hang in the National Gallery of Ireland and major Galleries worldwide. His son W.B. Yeats was one of Ireland's most famous poets and statesmen, a Nobel Prize winner, an influential author in the Irish literary movement, and a member of the Irish senate. The Yeats family is one of Ireland's most notable families producing a master poet, a master painter, and influential drivers of the Irish Arts and Crafts movement and this chest offers the chance to own a piece of their history. This is a transitional piece demonstrated by the use of ends which are traditionally found on 16th and early 17th century boarded chests, combined with a characteristic mid-17th century three panelled front with gadrooning and a top faced with moulded edges.

The single plank top faced with a moulded edge and with a later iron hasp. The interior with a till and replaced hinges. The front with crisply carved, gadrooned frieze retaining its original iron lockplate above three panels separated by moulded uprights with punched decoration in the centre. Standing on stile feet with a sliced repair to the front feet. The sides plain. The replacements are not recent and are to elements that have been used over time and are thus acceptable and demonstrate its authenticity. The ring hinges in situ probably date back to the 18th century , there are signs and remnants of 17, 18, 19th century hasps, the lockplate is most likely original and the D hook probably 19th century. The recess where the lock was removed has been beautifully patched with oak again most likely 19th century

Provenance: •\tJohn Butler Yeats (1839-1922) the artist, unknown when and how acquired •\t1922 - W.B Yeats, John Butler Yeats son the poet by descent •\t1939 -Michael B. Yeats, W.B.Yeats son, the barrister and politician by descent, part of the furnishings at Cliff House in Dublin, •\t2007 - Grainne Yeats, Michael's wife, by descent, remaining at Cliff House, Dublin •\t2013 - Caitriona, Siobha and Padriag, Michael and Grainne's children, by descent. They were the executors of the Estate and the chest was sold by the Estate. John Butler Yeats was one of Ireland's finest portrait painters and during a long and productive lifetime, painted many of the leading figures of the Irish Renaissance. Among these were his famous sons, Jack B. Yeats, and the poet William Butler Yeats and writers such as Lady Gregory, AE and Padraic Column as well as the original members of the Abbey Theatre Company.

The son of a Protestant clergyman from Sligo, John Yeats studied Law at Trinity College Dublin and graduated at the age of twenty-three with honours and a prize in Political Economy. The following year he married Susan Pollexfen, the daughter of a Sligo ship owner, whose family originated in Cornwall. Soon after their marriage, Yeats began to study for the Irish Bar, to which he was called in 1866. But his efforts to earn a living in this field proved difficult and he decided to become a professional painter instead.

In 1867 he enrolled at London's famous Heatherly Art School. He soon gathered a wide circle of friends around him, including artist J.T. Nettleship, George Wilson, and Edwin Ellis all of whom espoused Pre-Raphaelite ideals and with whom he formed a brotherhood devoted to the same. In 1872 Yeats began to work in earnest as a portrait painter. He and his family settled in Howth in 1880 and he began to show regularly at the RHA. During this time he painted portraits and subject pictures which often featured young children.

In 1887 he returned to London, taking up residence at Bedford Park and gave up oil painting for some years in favour of charcoal and pencil. He returned to painting in oils in 1897 around the time of his activity as a visiting teacher at May Manning's studio in Dublin. This renewed interest in Dublin's artistic life prompted his return in 1901. In that year he showed forty-three works in a joint exhibition with Nathaniel Hone, as a result of which he received an important commission from Hugh Lane to paint portraits of prominent Irishmen such as John O'Leary, George Moore, John Redmond and others. Yeats never finished the commission, painting only characters in which he took an interest, and so William Orpen completed the task. He went to New York in 1908 and remained there for the rest of his life.

His most famous portraits are those painted in Dublin between 1901 and 1908 where he surpassed his contemporaries with his originality of style and his sensitive interpretations. Dr James White has written: " All his life he was engaged in an encounter with the personality of the sitter. He knew exactly what he wanted to do. It was to capture the moment of humanity in a smile, to enlarge experience by showing us a living being in a pencil sketch or an oil sketch".

All prices exclude custom clearance fees which, where appropriate, will be charged directly to the client by your receiving courier, importer or government.
Height 68 cm / 27"
Width 123 cm / 48 "
Depth 46.5 cm / 18 12"

17th Century






United Kingdom

Collectors / Designers



Charles II (Of the period)






GOOD. Wear consistent with age and use.