Saturday, December 1, 2007


"Ashcan Artists" & Lamartine Blocks, Chelsea W29 & W30 btwn 8Ave & 9Ave
In early 20th Century NYC, 317 West 29th Street(formerly Lamartine Place) was the address of the Petipas' sisters boardinghouse, where painter John Butler Yeats (father of the poet) lived. John Sloan painted "Yeats at Petipas", (1910)showing him dining there with artists and literary figures. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The boardinghouse and Chelsea district in general, was an unofficial center for the "Ash Can" group of artists.
William Glackens's "Chez Mouquin" (1905), showing Clement Clarke Moore the Third in presence of a "much younger lady of questionable repute" and John Sloan's "Yeats at Petipas'" (1910) are evidence of this trend in Chelsea.
John Butler Yeats was also the father of four artistic children, including the poet W. B. [William Butler] Yeats, and the painter and illustrator Jack [John] Butler Yeats, as well as the daughters Susan Mary (Lilly) and Lolly also know for their creative endeavors.
In December, 1907, Yeats accompanied his eldest daughter, Susan Mary [Lily] Yeats, to an embroidery exhibit in New York City for what was intended as a short visit. However, Yeats remained there for the following 14 years and never returned to Dublin. He took up residence at a boarding house run by the Petitpas sisters at 317 West 29th Street, and participated in the literary and art communities of the city. ___________________________________________________________________ In New York, Yeats continued to paint portraits and sketch for commissions, as well as for friends and himself. He also wrote several essays on subjects that included art, Irish issues, and women, and was a public speaker at venues in the eastern United States. Within his circle of artistic friends in New York, Yeats was known as an exceptional conversationalist. During this time he nurtured friendships with Martha Fletcher Bellinger, the writer Van Wyck Brooks, Mary Tower Lapsley Caughey, the miniature painter Eulabee Dix [Becker], the painter John Sloan and his wife, Dolly, Ann Squire, the lawyer and art patron John Quinn, and several others.

Yeats maintained contact with his family in Europe and friends in America through extensive correspondence.

On February 3, 1922, Yeats died, leaving behind an unfinished self-portrait, commissioned by Quinn, that he had been working on for 11 years. He is buried in Chestertown, New York, near Lake George in the Adirondacks
___________________________________________________________________ The boarding house at 317 West 29th run by the three Petipas sisters is recounted by B. L. Reid in his fascinating biography ''The Man From New York -- John Quinn and his Friends'' (Oxford University Press, 1968, page 89)
John Butler Yeats, (father of the poet,William Butler Yeats and painter Jack B. Yeats) ''was to live out his days there, illuminating that place and making it locally celebrated. . . . When weather allowed, the boarders and their guests would dine in a sort of pavilion, an open roofed shed in the back garden. It is in this setting that John Sloan painted him in 'Yeats at Petipas' with a group of friends about the table.''
In the 1870's and 1880's, the Chelsea Neighborhood had been at the center of New York City's Theater world.
Madison Square was the Times Square of it's day and
West 23 rd Street running westward to 8th Avenue was an
extention of it.

As late as 1910, when many Aschan Artists were active, Chelsea still had some lingering theatrical vestiges, although mostly of a vaudville kind and increasingly seedier in nature.

Many Aschan Artists, who favored the grittier aspects of city life, captured the fading glow of this leftover theater world.