Until the 1920’s life in the west of Ireland formed the central theme of Yeats’s work and he made regular trips to Galway, Mayo, Sligo, and Donegal, equipped with his sketchbooks, to gather material and inspiration for his formal artworks. This 1901 sketch of a man with sheep on market day in Peterswell, county Galway is typical of Yeats’s sketchbooks from the period 1900-1910 and reflects his love of market day and the opportunities it provided to observe and sketch the range of scenes and rural characters which fascinated him. Yeats insisted that artists could only paint what they had actually seen and though he acknowledged that the subject matter of his later works could be more obscure he insisted that he couldn’t ‘paint doors to fit keys’.
The archive collection also includes a large number of varied original artworks by Jack B. Yeats and other members of the Yeats family; featured are drawings by John B. Yeats, embroideries by Lily Yeats, and a painting and numerous examples of the printing work of Elizabeth (Lolly) Yeats. This stencil painting of a boxer is taken from a press cutting book into which Jack pasted it and 25 further stencil works. Yeats stenciled regularly from [c.1900-1905], and the archive also includes many of the cut-out stencil designs. Original illustrations can also be found in several volumes in Jack B. Yeats’s personal library and in a number of letters. In 2002 Michael Yeats donated Anne Yeats’s own archive, including a large number of her sketchbooks, to the Yeats Archive at the Gallery.