Joan Eardley RSA 1921-1963
Elected RSA: 16 March 1955
Elected RSA: 13 February 1963
The death of Joan Eardley at the early age of 42 was a sad blow to the Royal Scottish Academy and to Scottish art. She studied at the Glasgow School of Art where she gained the Diploma in Drawing and Painting and was awarded the Major Travelling Scholarship at the end of her post-graduate year. As a young student, her work showed promise of significant develop- ment.
She understood the value of drawing and sensed the need to have a thorough knowledge of her craft. The soundness of her instinct later bore fruit and her work developed in power and emotional force, which could only come from appreciation of natural form and colour. Neither in her life nor in her art did Joan Eardley choose the easy path.
Her life was dedicated to the pursuit of the significant in art and, in consequence, she was prepared to forego many of the social amenities and pleasure most of us seek to enjoy. Joan Eardley's work does not reflect an idiom of ourtime, She went her individual way with a passionate yet creative devotion, and it is to the eternal credit of her associates that her worth was early recog- nised and she was, at the time, the youngest lady artist ever to be elected to the Academy.
She was elected an Associate in 1955 and attained full Academician rank in 1963. It is perhaps unwise to prophesy - especially in art - but some would say that in Joan Eardley we had one of the most distinguished land- scape painters since William McTaggart the elder. She held her first London Exhibition in 1955, and another in June, 1963, and she was one of the painters featured in this year's Arts Council Edinburgh Festival Exhibition "Four Scottish Painters”.
Miss Eardley was born in Sussex in 1921 of Scottish and English parents, and was brought up in London, but she lived most of her life in Scotland, travelling latterly between two homes - the house where her Mother lives at Milngavie and the other her Studio at Catterline on the Kincardineshire Coast. She died in Killearn Hospital on 16th August, 1963.
RSA Obituary Transcribed from the 1963 RSA Annual Report