Joan Kathleen Harding Eardley, RSA (British, 1921-1963)
Boy with Apple Cheeks oil on board 38.5 x 27.5 cm. (15 3/16 x 10 13/16 in.)
PROVENANCE: Studio Inventory no. EE 47 With Roland, Browse and Delbanco, London Lord Eccles (according to inscription verso) London/Edinburgh/Glasgow, The Fine Art Society, February 1983, where purchased by the present owner
The sitter appears to be Andrew Samson, one of Joan's favourite models. He was one of a large brood who lived near her studio in Townhead, Glasgow, and the painting captures the fascinating evolution from naturalism to a more expressive style which exemplified her work in the early-mid 1950s.
A report from the 'Glasgow Herald', August 13th, 1955, discusses Six Scottish Painters (including Robin Philipson, William Burns and David Donaldson) from the First Edinburgh Festival Exhibition:
"In her exuberance in both of these respects (vitality and invention), Miss Eardley runs ahead of the rest. This artist, who seems strangely coy about exhibiting in Glasgow, is nevertheless interpreting Glasgow visually to the world with an authenticity not achieved, perhaps, since Muirhead Bone... Her preoccupation is with the seedier streets, the pavements and tenement walls frescoed with chalk scrawlings and soot, and those whose barren playgrounds they provide...But the main emphasis is on the children of no mean city. To depict these waifs and urchins with their knobbly knees emerging stalk-like from flower-pot Wellington boots, their clutched jammy pieces, and their obstinately apple cheeks, the insouciant 'Andrew' sublimely unaware that his stomach is showing between shorts and pullover, Miss Eardley commands line with something of the indignant vigour and tension of Van Gogh in the Borinage. If she had to be classified in contemporary terms it would no doubt be as a social realist. But, being a genuine realist rather than a propagandist, she shows her skipping, hopping children to be happy as, even in the slums, children are; and in the rapt concentration of two of her best studies...there is no hint of the horror or the moralising that goes with it."