Joan Eardley paintings of tenement children to go under the hammer
She is the celebrated Scottish artist best known for her vivid portrayal of children playing in the street outside their run-down tenement homes in Glasgow.
Now art collectors, museums and galleries are set to get a “unique opportunity” to snap up some of the work created by Joan Eardley’s in the dilapidated Townhead district of the city.
Eardley paintings drawn from three separate private collections are to feature in a forthcoming sale of Scottish art treasures expected to generate around £3 million.
The Eardley works due to come under the hammer are on display, along with other lots in Sotheby’s Scottish art sale in London on 21 November, at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh this weekend.
Other highlights have included work by the “Scottish Colourists” Samuel John Peploe, George Leslie Hunter, John Duncan Fergusson and Francis Cadell.
Experts have reported a surge in interest in the work of Eardley since a major exhibition was staged at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh between December 2016 and May of this year.
Born in Sussex in 1921, Eardley moved to Scotland in 1940 to study at Glasgow School of Art.
Her interest in painting children was prompted by the opening of a studio on St James Road, in the Townhead area, in 1953.
Sotheby’s, which is staging its revived Scottish art sale for the third year in a row in London, say they will be selling “one of the most significant and diverse groups of work” by Eardley to the come on to the market.
One painting, “Girl With a Green Scarf”, has been valued at up to £80,000, “Child’s Head” is expected to generate around £70,000, while “Boy in a Red Jumper” could command £25,000.
Other Eardley works in next month’s sale include a painting of tenements in the snow and a depiction of cottages in Catterline, in Aberdeenshire, where Eardley spent her later years.
The Sotheby’s catalogue states: “Eardley restlessly drew and painted the many children that came knocking on her door in Townhead. Described as having a rather shy and introverted character, she was remarkably sure of herself when she was absorbed by her creative ability.
To capture these young children she would have to entertain them in her modest studio, encouraging them to sit still for her.
“Eardley celebrated the vibrant character of the children of Townhead, portraying them kindly but capturing the tough reality of their impoverished lives.
“Her depictions of children are not sentimentalised; they are character studies of a neglected strata of society.
“She recognised the vitality of spirit that existed within the energetic children who played amongst the shattered remains of the tenements of post-war Glasgow.”
Thomas Podd, head of Scottish art at Sotheby’s, said: “I’ve not seen an offer of Joan Eardley’s work at auction before. It is a pretty unique opportunity to acquire some really first-rate work.
“Her work does come up for auction, but never in this sort of depth, quality and quantity.
“It’s very unusual to see such a breadth of her work in the one auction.
“Last year’s exhibition in Edinburgh has really switched a lot of people on to what an important artist she is.
“We’re hoping to continue that momentum with our auction. We’ve already had a lot interest. People are starting to realise she is really up there with the great 20th century artists.”
Other artists featured in the Sotheby’s Scottish art sale include John Bellany, Ken Currie, Steven Campbell, Jack Vettriano.
Several Peter Howson paintings are included in the sale, including a portrait of the Celtic Football Club legend Henrik Larsson.