Joan Eardley

Joan Kathleen Harding Eardley (18 May 1921 – 16 August 1963) was a British artist noted for her portraiture of street children in Glasgow and for her landscapes of the fishing village of Catterline and surroundings on the North-East coast of Scotland. One of Scotland's most enduringly popular artists, her career was tragically cut short by breast cancer. Her artistic career had three distinct phases. The first was from 1940 when she enrolled at the Glasgow School of Art through to 1949 when she had a successful exhibition of paintings created while travelling in Italy. From 1950 to 1957, Eardley's work focused on the city of Glasgow and in particular the slum area of Townhead. In the late 1950s, while still living in Glasgow, she spent much time in Catterline before moving there permanently in 1961. During the last years of her life, seascapes and landscapes painted in and around Catterline dominated her output.

Eardley's work was already highly acclaimed by many in Britain by the time of her death. Since then she has been recognised as an artist of international importance. A retrospective exhibition held in Edinburgh in 1988 was hosted by the Talbot Rice Gallery and the Royal Scottish Academy, the then director of the National Galleries of Scotland having declined the opportunity to mark the 25th anniversary of her death. A National Galleries of Scotland retrospective was finally held in 2007-8. The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art has many of her works, as do the Glasgow Museums, which hold both coastal landscapes such as Catterline Coastal Cottages (1952) and figurative paintings such as Two Children from 1963.

According to Dr Janet McKenzie of the National Galleries of Scotland, Eardley's untimely death 'meant that she was never given the stature she deserved. Her work deserves to be compared to Frank Auerbach, David Bomberg and Lucian Freud.

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