Dame Elizabeth Blackadder RA, Saddle Bag and Peruvian Birds

Saddle Bag and Peruvian Birds, 1977

Dame Elizabeth Blackadder RA (1931 - 2021)

RA Collection: Art

Saddle Bag and Peruvian Birds is Elizabeth Blackadder's Diploma work, presented following her election as a Royal Academician in 1976. Particularly well-known for her flower paintings in watercolour, Blackadder also produced many landscape, still-life scenes and portraits throughout her career. She frequently worked in oils as well as producing prints, stating that she had 'no particular preference' between oils and watercolour.

The still-life that Blackadder chose for the Royal Academy Collection is particularly characteristic of her work from the mid-1970s to early 1980s in which she often painted interior still-life subjects featuring flowers and an eclectic range of items she had collected in her home and studio. She described herself as a 'collector of everything'. In these works, Blackadder used a flattened picture plain, retaining figurative representation while rejecting traditional Western concerns with perspective and conventional pictorial structures. This derived initially from her interests in Byzantine and medieval art, as well as contemporary developments in abstraction, and later drove her engagement with Japanese art and culture. Examples of similar works from this date includeTulips and Indian Painting https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/tulips-and-indian-painting-183791/search/actor:blackadder-elizabeth-v-19312021/sort_by/date_earliest/order/asc/page/2 and Still life with Japanese kite https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/still-life-with-japanese-kite-277221/search/actor:blackadder-elizabeth-v-19312021/sort_by/date_earliest/order/asc/page/4/view_as/grid

Elizabeth Blackadder studied at Edinburgh University and Edinburgh College of Art from 1949 to 1954. She was awarded travelling scholarships to Italy and other parts of southern Europe following her studies and went on to lecture in Drawing and Painting at Edinburgh College of Art from 1962 to 1986. Blackadder was the first woman to be elected both a Member of the Royal Scottish Academy (1972) and of the Royal Academy of Arts (1976). She garnered numerous other honours and awards, including her 2001 appointment as Her Majesty’s Painter and Limner in Scotland, and she became a Dame in 2003.

Further information:

Some of the objects that Elizabeth Blackadder kept in her studio and depicted in her still-life paintings can be seen in this short interview with the artist https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ff_dZVPzE8&feature=youtu.be

Object details

Saddle Bag and Peruvian Birds
Object type
Copyright owner

667 mm x 997 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
Diploma Work given by Dame Elizabeth Blackadder RA accepted 1977
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