Lot 113
  • 113

Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell 1883-1937

40,000 - 60,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell
  • iona and ben more
  • signed l.r.: FCB Cadell.; inscribed and signed on the reverse: Absorbent ground/ Never varnish-/ F. C. B. Cadell./ IONA. BEN MORE.
  • oil on panel


Forfarshire, Colonel Mason MacFarlane;
Edinburgh, Doig Wilson & Wheatley;
Private collection

Catalogue Note

‘Warmed by the sun, blown by the wind I sat
Upon the hill top looking at the sound.
Down in the church beneath, the people sat
On chairs and laughed and frowned.

No Chairs for me when I can lie
And air myself upon the heather
And watch the fat bees buzzing by
And smell the smell of summer weather.

Let them bow down to God unfound
For me the sound that stretches round
For me the flowery scented ground
Upon the hilltop looking at the sound.

No church for me to worship in
Confined by walls of dank dark stone.
For rather can I worship him
When I am out in his fair world.’

Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell, One Sunday in Iona, written in the summer of 1913.

For much of WWI Cadell served as a private soldier in the Royal Scots, 9 Battalion and from the end of 1915 he endured the horrors of the French trenches. In 1918 he was transferred to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders as a Second Lieutenant where his army experience was less uncomfortable than previously; his tailor was instructed to replace his scratchy standard issue uniform with one made of quality fabric and he had time to produce a series of humorous illustrations for a book entitled Tommy and Jack which were sold in aid of the Red Cross. During his army leave Cadell was able to make brief painting forays to the island of Iona in the Western Isles, a beautiful haven of tranquility that he had discovered in 1912. During the war years the seclusion and peace of Iona must have taken on a greater importance as a refuge for Cadell and it was during these years that he painted some of his most striking coastal landscapes of the white beaches and sculptural rocks. It also offered a different lifestyle to that of Edinburgh, as Roger Billcliffe has noted; ‘Its simplicity of life – primitive almost – was obviously a welcome change from the style and pace of life of Edinburgh.’ (Roger Billcliffe, The Scottish Colourists – Cadell, Fergusson, Hunter, Peploe, 1989, p. 41) Following his discharge from the army in 1919 Cadell headed straight to Iona and the visit was not merely to raise his flagging spirits, it was also a commercial move. The war had effected the sales of his still lifes and studio interiors as patrons ceased to buy the paintings; of the seven still lifes exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy in 1919, not one was sold. Conversely Cadell’s Iona views retained their popularity among his most loyal patrons and he decided to travel to Iona to paint landscapes to meet the demand. He sold fourteen of these Iona seascapes in the weeks before Christmas in 1919 and secured enough money to be able to purchase his new studio in Edinburgh at 6 Ainslie Place. Cadell became a well-known and welcome annual visitor to Iona and the local children would run to the dock to greet him, shouting the nickname they gave him “Himself”. He drew solace from the tranquility of the island and its people but; ‘… its great attraction was its light and the rapidly changing Colours of sand, sea and sky caused by the wind blowing in the clouds from the Atlantic. The fields, hills, farms and beaches of Iona never failed to offer Cadell some new subject.’ (ibid Billcliffe, p. 41)

The view across the Sound from Iona to the island of Mull with Ben More, was one which Cadell rarely painted and was more frequently depicted by Peploe, who began visiting the island from 1920 as Cadell’s guest. It is likely that Peploe determined the locality for painting the present picture and that the two artists had sat beside each other painting the view towards the neighbouring island with its imposing mountain.