Eardley is noted for her expressive portrayal of the deprived children of Glasgow and their environment after the Second World War - closely observed studies of personality as well as appearance. For many families the children's clothes had to be second-hand, bought at a humble rag and bone shop of the kind depicted in this painting.
33 × 26.5 cm
47.5 × 39.5 × 2 cm
Signed bottom right
© Estate of Joan Eardley. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2020
Joan Eardley RSA, 1921-1963
Born in Warnham, Sussex, to Anglo-Scottish parents, and brought up in Lincoln and in Blackheath, London, Eardley studied art briefly at Goldsmiths College before moving to Glasgow with her mother and grandmother at the beginning of the Second World War. She trained at Glasgow School of Art under Hugh Adam Crawford before taking a wartime job as a joiner's labourer. In 1943 she graduated with both the Diploma prize for drawing and painting and the prize for portraiture.
Van Gogh, Vuillard and Bonnard influenced Eardley's early draughtsmanship and choice of domestic interiors. Henry Moore and early Italian renaissance masters brought a sculptural weight and humanity to the figure compositions. In 1947 Eardley resumed her art studies at Hospitalfield in Arbroath, under James Cowie, and the following year returned to Glasgow School of Art to pursue the post-diploma course awarded to her four years earlier. She was given two travelling scholarships and spent eight months visiting Paris, Venice, Florence, Siena and Rome. The sketches and compositions executed in France and Italy were shown at her first solo exhibition at Glasgow School of Art on her return in 1949.
In 1950 Eardley discovered the small fishing village of Catterline, near Stonehaven, Kincardineshire. From then on she divided her time between her studios in Glasgow and Catterline. The later gestural weather studies in chalk had much of the force of the Abstract Expressionists but never became totally abstract. The oils included collages layers of earth and vegetation under thick sweeps of paint.
A quiet, retiring person, Eardley pursued her art with single-minded purpose. Her style is individual and conforms to no particular schools. She was elected ARSA in 1955 and RSA in the spring of 1963 but died a few months later.