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3 December 2021

Joan Eardley’s mesmerising painting “Street Kids” to be displayed at Duff House

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

The oil painting "Street Kids" by Joan Eardley

Renowned for her portraits of slum children in Glasgow and wild seascapes of the Scottish coastline, acclaimed artist Joan Eardley (1921-1963) remains enduringly popular in Scotland. 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 in Glasgow, 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 Georgian mansion Duff House until March 2022.

Corinna Leenen, Collections Manager at Duff House 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 twentieth century Scotland.”

Born in Sussex in 1921, Joan 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 1950-7 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. Whilst in Catterline, Eardley painted many seascapes, often during wild storms, of the waves, the beach and the fishing nets. Joan Eardley’s prolific career was tragically cut short at only 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 iconic Scottish works of the twentieth century in the national collection.”

“Street Kids” will be on display from Friday 3 December to Friday 6 March 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.

About Duff House

Duff House is a masterpiece of baroque architecture and one of the most important buildings in the north of Scotland. It was designed in 1735 by the renowned Scottish architect William Adam and is now a five-star visitor attraction, run in partnership by Historic Environment Scotland, the National Galleries of Scotland and Aberdeenshire Council.

About Year of Coasts and Waters 2021

The Year of Coasts and Waters (#YCW2021), led by VisitScotland, will be showcased throughout 2021. Activities and ideas will shine a spotlight on the impact our waters have had on Scotland, from the formation of beautiful natural features to the creation of our national drink - whisky.

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES) 

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