Joan Eardley

Two Glasgow Children

  • Pastel
  • 12 x 9 ins


Please note the price of this work is subject to Artist's Resale Right

Canterbury, Art for Science, 1964, where lent by Mrs. Eardley

F. Pearson, Joan Eardley, National Galleries of Scotland, 2007, ill.27.
Two Glasgow Chilren
is a stunning example of Joan Eardley's depictions of the children from the Townhead area of Glasgow. During the immediate post war era, Townhead still comprised mainly tenement buildings; it was a deprived area. By the mid-1960s the slums were gone. With her studio at St James's Road in Townhead Eardley was right in the centre of the working-class community and her daily encounters with the children made them familiar subject matter for her studies.

'They hardly notice me when they come in, they are full of what they have been doing. Who has gone to jail, who has broken into what shop, who flung a pie into whose face, and so it goesare letting out their life.' Joan Eardley talking in a BBC interview recorded in 1963.

With the promise of a few sweets in exchange for a moment's modelling, the street children were keen to assist Eardley and came knocking at her studio door. Pastel was the medium of choice for the majority of these works on paper as it lent itself well to capturing the deft movements of her sitters. The sense of kinship between the children is one of the most striking features of these studies and this is never more apparent than in the work Two Glasgow Children. In depicting these two brothers or friends holding hands, Eardley has captured the poignancy of childhood with humour and empathy that makes these studies unique in the history of British art. As Christopher Andreae writes, 'She knowingly celebrated the vibrant character of their burstingly energetic existence. She portrayed them with a kind of fond and tough sense of reality.'

A photograph taken by Audrey Walker of Joan in her Townhead studio shows this drawing pinned to the top of the easel.