Joan Eardley lived from 18 May 1921 to 16 August 1963. She became an important Glasgow-based artist in the post-war years who also founded the "Catterline School" of artists. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
Joan Kathleen Harding Eardley was born in Sussex in England, where her parents were dairy farmers. Her father had been wounded in a gas attack in the First World War, and committed suicide in 1929. Joan moved with her mother to Blackheath in London, where she first attended Art School before moving in 1939 to study at the Glasgow School of Art.
After spending a year in 1947 touring France and Italy, Joan set up a studio in Glasgow, close to the deprived Townhead area, where she became known for her drawings and paintings of children, often playing in the streets. She soon developed a reputation for atmospheric and realistic urban settings which fitted perfectly into the austere world of post-war Britain. She was often to be seen transporting her easel and paints around Glasgow in an old pram.
From 1950, Joan Eardley started to spend part of each year away from Glasgow in Catterline, a small fishing village on the Aberdeenshire coast south of Stonehaven. Here she started to produce stormy seascapes, often outdoors and often in poor weather. At Catterline she became the focus of the "Catterline School" of artists, a group who were increasingly drawn to the village during the 1950s and who included Annette Soper, Angus Neil and Lil Neilson.
Joan Eardley's work was already highly acclaimed in Scotland by the time of her early death in 1963 at the age of just 42. Since then she has become viewed as internationally important, both for her Glasgow-based urban work and for her Catterline seascapes.