The Society of Eight Exhibition, Edinburgh, 1930, where acquired by Murray Reid for £35 and thence by descent to the present owner
The Red Fan is a sophisticated painting that is representative of Cadell's mature still life style of the 1920s. Its double-interior setting with the still life in the foreground and a fragment of another of his paintings, The Rose and Lacquer Screen, in the background is demonstrative of Cadell's mastery of using cropped compositions, a vivid palette and multiple perspectives to explore form and colour. The artist's setting of a painting within a painting is united in a refined composition based on colour and space through repeated motifs such as the eloquently depicted wine glass and the reduced tall glass above and the vibrant geometric red fan and its stylized black companion in the background painting. These, along with the Fauvist-inspired red, yellow, and blue colours framed by the muted white and lilac tablecloth and wall at once create a harmonious still life and a masterful exploration of perspective and form.
The painting is a more extensive version of The Red Fan no.1. This Cadell painted in a landscape format and cropped its composition just above the wine bottle and before the edge of the table. Undoubtedly inspired by the success of the first painting, Cadell significantly expanded The Red Fan to include more of the painting in the background and the table in the foreground. The painting's vertical orientation includes a more comprehensive view of the painting in the background as well as the front edge of the table, showing the ribbon of the fan draping off the table surface. This change in composition and orientation highlights Cadell's specific style of using colour and form to explore the dimensionality of the canvas.
The painting was likely completed in 1924 when Cadell lived at 6, Ainslie Place, Edinburgh, a fashionable residence that the artist filled with props such as fine china, silver, and Japanese fans for decorative effect. These objects were often the subjects for Cadell's still-life paintings from this period in Edinburgh, and it is likely that the red fan and wine glass in the painting were the artist's personal possessions. Many of the furnishings in Cadell's apartment were supplied by the preeminent interior design company Whytock & Reid. Murray Reid, of Whytock & Reid, became both a friend and patron of Cadell and he acquired The Red Fan from a Society of Eight exhibition along with Scabia and Marigolds (Sotheby's, London, 15 November 2011, lot 16).
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