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 Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell  (1883 - 1937)



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Lived/Active: Scotland/France      Known for: landscape, portrait, figure and still-life painting

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from Auction House Records.
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell RSA was a Scottish Colourist painter, renowned for his depictions of the elegant New Town interiors of his native Edinburgh, and for his work on Iona.

From October 2011 - March 2012 the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art held a major solo retrospective of Cadell's work, the first since that held at the National Gallery of Scotland in 1942.

Francis Cadell (possibly pronounced "Caddle") was born in Edinburgh, the son of a surgeon and was educated at the Edinburgh Academy. His sister was Jean Cadell, a well-known actress. From the age of 16 he studied in Paris at the Académie Julian*, where he was in contact with the French avant-garde* of the day. While in France, his exposure to work by the early Fauvists*, and in particular Matisse, proved to be his most lasting influence. After his return to Scotland, he was a regular exhibitor in Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as in London.

Cadell was a left-handed painter. While a student, the President of the Royal Scottish Academy tried to stop him painting with his left hand because 'No artist ever became great who did so.' Cadell swiftly replied 'Sir and did not the great Michelangelo paint with his left hand?' The President did not respond and left the room quickly. A fellow student asked Cadell how he had known that Michelangelo was left-handed. Cadell confessed 'I didn't know but nor did the president.'

Cadell spent much of his adult life in Scotland and had little direct contact with many of the new ideas that were being developed abroad. He therefore tended to use subjects and environments that were close at hand – landscapes, fashionable Edinburgh New Town house interiors, still life and figures in both oil and watercolour.  He is particularly noted for his portraits of glamorous women whom he painted in a loose, impressionistic* manner, depicting his subject with vibrant waves of colour. He enjoyed the landscape of Iona enormously, which he first visited in 1912 and features prominently in his work. During the 1920s he spent several summers with Samuel Peploe, another Scottish Colourist, on painting trips to Iona, and was also friends with the Scottish architect Reginald Fairlie.

During World War I he served in the 9th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and the 9th Royal Scots regiments.

He lived at 6 and 22 Ainslie Place, Edinburgh from 1920-1932. He then lived at 30 Regent Terrace from 1932-1935 where he found it more and more difficult to sell his paintings because of the economic climate. He finally moved to Warriston Crescent, where he died in poverty in 1937.


* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary


Biography from Bonhams Edinburgh:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

The Cadell family emigrated from Edinburgh to Munich in 1907. His early work generally shows the influence of the Impressionists, and this example retains echoes of Monet.

TJ Honeyman, biographer of the Scottish Colourists and the man who coined the term, considered Cadell's Iona series to be the archetypal works of the genre. The artist visited the island most summers from 1912, depicting the North End of the island in particular in all its myriad guises, according to the fleeting effects of light and atmosphere. This fine example dates from the early 1920's.

On Peploe's recommendation, Cadell visited the little fishing port of Cassis, east of Marseille, in 1923 and '24, producing some of his most characteristic work of the period. All four of the Colorists worked there at one point or other.

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