When Joan Eardley painted ‘Sleeping Nude’ in 1954 she was subjected to ‘Shock Horror’ headlines in the scottish tabloid press. One newspaper went so far as to print the artists home address inviting the public to make their feelings on the work known directly. The main result of the publication however was perhaps more disturbing, as several men turned up offering their services as models.
Born in Sussex in 1921, Eardley moved to Glasgow in 1940, studying at Glasgow School of Art. Her paintings of children playing in rundown Glasgow tenements, and her landscapes painted in and around the fishing village of Catterline on the north-east coast of Scotland, are among the most celebrated works in Scottish art. Her career was cut tragically short in 1963, when she died of cancer at the age of 42.
The National Gallery of Scotland is currently presenting one of the largest Eardley exhibitions ever held, and it is also the first major exhibition of her work in nearly twenty years.
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