Let's talk about money! Eardley, the Tate, and Market Values of Women's Painting

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


‘Let’s talk about money’: Joan Eardley, the Tate, and market values of painting This paper discusses the impact that large museum collecting has upon an artist’s market value. Moreover, it is argued that an artist’s gender plays a large part in whether or not their artwork will acquire sufficient cultural, symbolic and social capital to push their economic values up to the headline-grabbing figures we see in the media. ‘Let’s talk about money’ examines gender and value in the context of Joan Eardley’s oeuvre of work. The importance of discussing money is highlighted, often a taboo and hushed subject in the artworld, which has enabled an 89% gender value gap to develop in the UK. The paper evidences how the value of Eardley’s work peaked after her retrospective at the National Galleries of Scotland in 2008, but then fell in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Female values, the author attests, have struggled to reach their peaks, and we’re now living in a backlash to gender-art equality that means fewer women are now managing to reach the top auction figures and in fact, women artists now earn less than they did in the 1990s. The research used to support this study, is generated from the speaker’s 2016 PhD thesis, co-supervised by the Royal College of Art, and titled ‘The Gendered Economic and Symbolic Values in British Painting’. This included a statistical analysis of 42 variables, the aesthetics or painterly qualities of 4000 works of art, alongside artist’s biographical data, which formed a database of 168,000 data points. Further references include the author’s new book Women Can’t Paint (2020), Alan Bowness (1989), Susan Faludi (1993) and Roman Kraussl (2018). References Bowness, A. (1989) The Conditions of Success: How a Modern Artist Rises to Fame. London: Thames & Hudson. Faludi, S. (1993) Backlash: the Undeclared War against Women. London: Vintage Books. Gørrill, H. (2018) ‘Are Female Artists Worth Collecting? Tate doesn’t seem to think so.” The Guardian. August 18. Available online. Gørrill, H. (2020) Women Can’t Paint: Gender, the Glass Ceiling and Values in Contemporary Art. London & New York: Bloomsbury. Kraussl, R. (2018). ‘LSF Professor makes headlines in the art-finance world’. The University of Luxembourg. May 16. Full report available online.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2021
EventJoan Eardley: New Perspectives - University of Dundee, DJCAD, Dundee, United Kingdom
Duration: 20 Aug 202220 Aug 2022


ConferenceJoan Eardley
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
OtherDuncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (the University of Dundee) will present Joan Eardley has she has never been seen before, bringing new and vibrant conversations to an oeuvre of work created between 1940-1963. With a focus on the work created at nearby Catterline, Eardley’s evolving legacy has inspired a new generation of artists to create work through film, installation, textiles and paint. Join some of Scotland’s top art students as they prepare for their degree shows, presenting their thoughts on Eardley’s work and how it relates to their own practices. At the end of the conference, we’ll host an online (kahoot) prize quiz on Joan Eardley’s life and works, and the prize will be sent out to the winner(s) in the post.

The event is organised by INGEAR at DJCAD (Intersectional Gender Equality in the Arts Research), supporting marginalised artists and promoting better equalities in the artworld.
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'Let's talk about money! Eardley, the Tate, and Market Values of Women's Painting'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this