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Renowned artist's painting will be showcased at Duff House

By Kyle Ritchie

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A masterpiece from one of Scotland’s most popular 20th century artists is heading to Duff House, on loan from National Galleries of Scotland.

Renowned for her portraits of slum children in Glasgow and wild seascapes of the Scottish coastline, acclaimed artist Joan Eardley (1921-1963) remains admired by many.

As 2021 marks the centenary of Eardley’s birth, her prolific portfolio of work continues to inspire Scottish audiences.

The oil painting “Street Kids” is an early work from Eardley’s time based in her Townhead studio, a poor, dilapidated part of the city of Glasgow.

While there, Eardley frequently depicted the slum children of Townhead, sketching and painting them as they played.

She was drawn to the friendliness and community spirit of the back streets of Glasgow, remarking “Life is at its most uninhibited here”.

The masterpiece is the latest in a series of paintings to be loaned from the collection of National Galleries of Scotland and will be on display at the Georgian mansion in Banff until March 2022.

"Street Kids" is an early work from Eardley’s time based in her Townhead studio, a poor, dilapidated part of the city of Glasgow.
"Street Kids" is an early work from Eardley’s time based in her Townhead studio, a poor, dilapidated part of the city of Glasgow.

Collections manager at Duff House Corinna Leenen said: “The annual loan of a masterpiece from National Galleries of Scotland is always a highlight of the year and we are very pleased to host this vibrant painting by Joan Eardley.

“While on display in Duff House, visitors will be able to explore the contrast between the grandeur of the Georgian mansion, and Eardley’s honest, engaging portrayals of working-class life in 20th century Scotland.”

Born in Sussex in 1921, Eardley’s artistic career began in 1940 when she enrolled at the Glasgow School of Art and went on to win several major prizes, including a travelling scholarship to Italy.

Between 1950-57 she put down roots in Townhead in Glasgow, renting a studio on Cochrane Street where she produced her notable studies of street children and everyday life in the slum area.

In 1951, Eardley discovered the fishing village of Catterline in Aberdeenshire where she spent much of her time, before moving there permanently in 1961.

While in Catterline, Eardley painted many seascapes, often during wild storms, of the waves, the beach and the fishing nets.

Eardley’s prolific career was tragically cut short at the age of 42, after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and died in August 1963.

Simon Groom, director of modern and contemporary art at the National Galleries of Scotland said: “In the centenary year of Eardley’s birth, we are delighted to be showing 'Street Kids' at Duff House, not only one of the most celebrated works by one of Scotland’s finest painters, but possibly one of the most renowned Scottish works of the 20th century in the national collection.”

“Street Kids” will be on display from Friday, December 3 to Friday, March 6, 2022. Entry to view the painting is included in the admission price of the guided tour of Duff House, where visitors will also be able to view the exhibition of local artist Toni Harrower. Booking in advance is recommended to guarantee entry.

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