The Scottish Colourists series: FCB Cadell (4 stars)

Retrospective of the early 20th century colourist's work displays a life-long development of talent

The Scottish Colourists series: FCB Cadell

To modern eyes this retrospective of the work of early 20th century Edinburgh colourist FCB Cadell might appear a little staid, a procession of chintzy New Town interiors and still life compositions involving china crockery and the distinctive white sofa in Cadell’s George Street flat. Yet, viewed in the context of the era, and with the twin influences of the burgeoning art deco movement and Cadell’s time on the front during the First World War fresh in the mind, the decades-long development of the artist’s skill in capturing the colours and properties of light is laid bare.

The viewer is guided through the earlier soft-focus effect of an almost mark-making painting style which reaches its apogee with the Gaudi-esque colour splashes of a Venetian café scene, to the harder-edged effect of his rustic Iona landscapes and some bright, sharply sunlit villas in Cassis. From the simple refraction of light through a flower vase filled with water to the emerging definition and sensuality in the faces of a procession of his signature black-hatted ladies lounging in drawing rooms, the tightening of Cadell’s abilities over a lifetime’s work is striking.

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, until Sun 18 Mar.

The Scottish Colourist Series: FCB Cadell

  • 4 stars

The first of a series of retrospectives about the four artists known as the 'Scottish Colourists'. Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell (1883–1937) was born in Edinburgh and is remembered for his interiors, still lifes and landscapes of Scotland and France.


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