♦ FRANCIS CAMPBELL BOILEAU CADELL R.S.A., R.S.W. (SCOTTISH 1883-1937)
THE WEDGWOOD VASE
Signed, signed and inscribed verso, oil on canvas
46cm x 38cm (18in x 15in)
Estimate £ 250,000-350,000
Provenance: The Wood Collection
Exhibited: Society of Eight 1928, no.64
National Gallery of Scotland, Memorial Exhibition 1942, no.131
Fine Art Society, Centenary Exhibition 1983, no.57
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, F.C.B.Cadell, 2011
Literature: Tom Hewlett, Cadell - a Scottish Colourist 1988, p.73
Quarry Wood was both a friend and patron of F. C. B.Cadell, and it is therefore unsurprising that works by this artist are amongst the highlights of the collection.
Cadell's character is often described as being as colourful as his artworks. Though eccentric, he did not necessarily fit the role of the stereotypical "bohemian", instead preferring the good life; luxury, orderliness and all things beautiful. These preferences over-spilled abundantly into his life and art and are especially evident in the decoration of his Edinburgh studios which Cadell would appoint with a meticulous eye. The huge floor to ceiling windows characteristic of the Edinburgh New Town would flood the spacious rooms with light. The floor was a lacquered black, the furniture and woodwork painted in scarlet, lapis or jade, and the walls a distinctive lilac hue, as seen here in the magnificent The Wedgwood Vase. A painting of rare and exceptional quality, it embodies Cadell's inarguable high artistic skill.
After WW1 he began maximising his use of colour whilst simultaneously minimalising his handling. In this manner he was able to cleverly stylize and pare-back complicated compositions, producing a clean, sophisticated effect which nodded to the Art Deco movement of the time. What he doesn't say with his paintbrush - leaving some sections of the canvas virtually bare or suggesting forms with the most minimal of brushstrokes - is as important to the whole as the areas which are depicted in meticulous detail, like the vase itself. The elegant black marble fire place is picked out in sleek, blockish licks of paint, the high-shine of its surface reflecting the carefully curated selection of beautiful objects arranged on the mantle. Cadell was known to hang his own paintings about his walls and it is likely that we see one here in the upper left corner; vibrant green fronds of foliage in a dark gold frame. This in turn picks out the gilded accents on the smooth white vase which forms the focal point of the composition.
This painting is the epitome of all of the elements that made and indeed still make Cadell so irresistible to collectors: his innate artistic flair, an inherent sense of style and a seemingly effortless technical skill.
Sold for £290,500 (buyer's premium included)