Literature: Llewellyn, Sacha, et al. Women Only Works on Paper. Liss Llewellyn, 2021, p. 55.
Little is known about Margaret Duncan, other than that during the 1930s and 40s she worked as an art
teacher at Huyton College, Liverpool, where she amused staff and pupils with light-hearted drawings ‚Äì
quite good enough for Punch ‚Äì in which she perpetuated certain phrases or episodes’ of the comings
and goings of life at the school. In the preliminary sketch for Reigate and its Environments, which is
inscribed Design for Mural Decoration’, Duncan has taken her view from the tower of St Mary’s Church
with the North Downs forming a backdrop. Squared-up and rendered in watercolour, pen and ink, the
sketch is evidence of the thought and care that went into the planning of the mural’. The surviving finished
four-panelled screen, painted in egg tempera, faithfully follows the preliminary sketch but is populated
with characters partaking in a variety of country pursuits.
Similar figures can be seen in the study Jean von Bloch’, (also possibly a design for a larger painting).
Here Duncan paints a vignette of a family on a stroll, with a little boy, a woman and a man (possibly
a depiction of the playwright Jean-Richard Bloch) fancifully attired in historical costume. Both works
demonstrate Duncan’s talent for extracting the underlying geometry of landscape and figures to form a
coherent rhythmic whole.