Rediscovering Art by Women

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Rediscovering Art by Women
Margaret
Duncan


(

1906 – 1979


)

Reigate and its Environments

1939

Tempera on panel, mounted on four panels. Each panel 59 3/4 x 23 3/4 in. (152 x 60.5 cm).
w 152
h 60.5
Text by Paul Stamper, landscape historian.

This painted screen, presumably for domestic use, may be a little earlier than her RA exhibit, although its deliberately pastoral feel – no vehicles or other modern conveniences are shown – makes it hard to be sure.

A preliminary sketch labelled “Design for Mural Decoration” helps with the identification of features. Duncan probably took her view from the tower of St Mary’s Church, to the east of Reigate, looking roughly north-west across the town but moving the North Downs to form a backdrop. On the right is the abandoned chalk pit biting into the flank of Reigate Hill, with Colley Hill and Box Hill to its left (west). Prominent among the town’s buildings are the former Town Hall of c.1728 and the gothic gatehouse folly of 1777 on the site of Reigate’s Norman castle. In the left foreground is Reigate Park (labelled on the sketch). One curiosity is that the prominent building beyond, set in a sunken formal garden, is there labelled “Reigate Priory”. However, this is clearly not that, but apparently Cherchefelle, a five-bay house of c.1770 in Chart Lane, close to St Mary’s Church. Did Duncan assemble this view from a series of individual sketches and inadvertently get two buildings muddled up?

Margaret L. Duncan - Reigate and its Environments

Duncan, Margaret

Little is known about Margaret Duncan, except that she worked as an art teacher at Huyton College School from 1935 to 1947 before moving to St Katherine’s College in Tottenham, a training school for primary teachers; she retained a close association with Huyton throughout her life.

A dedicated teacher, she produced numerous humorous drawings of life at the school.  She made woodcuts which were primarily religious by nature, and worked primarily in tempera, exhibiting an Annunciation at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1941.

Artworks by the same Artist

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