Joan Kathleen Harding Eardley, R.S.A. (1921-1963)
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Joan Kathleen Harding Eardley, R.S.A. (1921-1963)

Between the Fields of Barley, Catterline

Joan Kathleen Harding Eardley, R.S.A. (1921-1963)
Between the Fields of Barley, Catterline
signed 'Joan Eardley' (lower right)
oil on board, grasses, seedheads, clover and cow parsley
48 x 54¼ in. (122 x 137.7 cm.)
Painted in 1960.
Mrs I. Eardley, the artist's mother.
Mrs Ursula Dallmeyer.
W. Buchanan, Joan Eardley, Edinburgh, 1976, p. 58, pl. 20.
London, Commonwealth Institute Art Gallery, 14 Scottish Painters, December 1963 - February 1964, number not traced.
Edinburgh, Aitken Dott, Joan Eardley R.S.A. 1921-1963 Festival Exhibition, August 1964, no. 7.
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Lot Essay

Joan Eardley was an enigmatic figure: a middle class woman who chose to live and work in economically deprived and physically inhospitable locations; an army officer's daughter who led an unconventional and alternative lifestyle, including a spell as a joiner's labourer; and a girl from Horsham in England who is now recognised as one of Scotland's greatest artists.

The two pillars of Eardley's achievements are her portrayal of the street children of Glasgow and her recording of the natural environment of Catterline, a fishing village on the north east coast of Scotland. Essentially, the village is a ribbon of houses clinging to the cliff-top and backed by endless acres of barley and oat fields. The fields provided a key motif for the artist who physically immersed herself in her subject, as she explained to a friend in a letter of 1962: 'I've got a series of paintings going at the end of my old cottage. It's a handy spot as no-one comes near and I can work away undisturbed. I just go on from one painting to another - just the grasses and the corn - it's oats this year, barley it was last year. There's a wee, windblown tree and that's all. But every day and every week it looks a bit different - the flowers come and the corn grows so it seems silly to shift it about. I just leave my painting table out here, and my easel and palette' (see C. Oliver, Joan Eardley, R.S.A., Edinburgh, 1988, p.76). In this work the artist's connection with the landscape is made even more physical by the incorporation of clover, cow parsley and other organic material within the painted surface. The artwork truly has become at one with the landscape.

The present work, probably her largest landscape, was singled out by her first biographer William Buchanan, who wrote, 'her ability to translate her acute awareness of her surroundings into paint is consummate. She looked along a grassy bank, noting the blue, white and poppy-red scatter of wild flowers. Above, a cool misty sky suggested that soon the sun would slowly break through to dry the fields and to scorch the fragile plants. That experience became Between the Fields of Barley' (W. Buchanan, loc. cit.).

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