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

Boats and the Harbour

Joan Eardley, R.S.A. (1921-1963)
Boats and the Harbour
oil and collage on board
47 x 96 in. (119.4 x 243.8 cm.)
Painted in 1963.
Purchased by the present owner at the 1963 exhibition (£300).
Edinburgh, Royal Scottish Academy, 1963, no. 78.

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Lot Essay

Eardley was particularly attracted to wild seas. A phone call from a neighbour in Catterline warning of approaching storms would send Eardley racing north from Glasgow. She stood on the shoreline in the bay to paint her seascapes (fig. 1). In response to the huge expanses of sea and sky, her paintings became physically larger and more imposing. She acquired a motor scooter so she could trundle her materials to and fro and would manhandle, sometimes huge canvases or boards up and down the steep cliff path (F. Pearson, exhibition catalogue, Joan Eardley, Edinburgh, National Galleries of Scotland, 2007, p. 53).

Painted with manifest urgency and immense freedom of brushwork, the current painting offers a precise impression of the scene, as well as an insight into the sensations aroused by the experience. Eardley used not only artist's paint but also boat paint, with newspaper, sand and grasses embedded in the mixture. She used a palette knife to create texture, dribbled paint down the foreground, and used the end of her brush to draw into the wet surface (ibid, p. 54). The expressive nature of these pictures has often been compared with post-war abstract painting in Europe and America.

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