Joan Eardley

Sleeping Nude

About this artwork

Eardley frequently painted clothed figures, but this starkly painted nude is unique in her work. The figure is painted in confident, block-like brushstrokes in the manner of Nicolas de Staël. The model was Eardley’s friend Angus Neil, who posed for her on a number of occasions in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The painting aroused controversy when it was exhibited in Edinburgh in 1955 since it was considered daring for a woman to paint a naked man. After receiving such unfavourable press, Eardley did not complete any similar subjects.

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  • title: Sleeping Nude
  • accession number: GMA 897
  • artist: Joan EardleyEnglish (1921 - 1963)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Nudity
  • materials: Oil on canvas
  • date created: 1955
  • measurements: 76.00 x 155.20 cm
  • credit line: Presented by Mrs Irene Eardley 1964
  • copyright: © Estate of Joan Eardley. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2017.
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

Joan Eardley

Joan Eardley

Born in Sussex, Eardley moved to Glasgow at the outbreak of war. She studied at Glasgow School of Art and at Hospitalfield House under James Cowie. Cowie helped to shape her preference for everyday subjects. In 1949 Eardley rented a studio in the centre of Glasgow, and a few years later moved to Townhead, where the local street children were her preferred subjects. She bought a cottage in the small fishing village of Catterline, south of Aberdeen, in 1954. There, her favourite subjects were the village and sea, particularly in stormy weather. Eardley died of cancer in August 1963. Her ashes were scattered on the beach at Catterline.