Lot 37
  • 37

Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell, R.S.A., R.S.W.

400,000 - 600,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell, R.S.A., R.S.W.
  • Florian's Café, Venice
  • signed, dated and inscribed l.r.: F.C.B. Cadell - 10 / Venice
  • oil on panel
  • 45 by 36.8 cm., 17¾ by 14½ in.


Sotheby's, Hopetoun House, 26 April 1988, lot 321;
The Scottish Gallery, London;
Portland Gallery, London;
Private collection


Tom Hewlett, "Cadell, The Life and Works of a Scottish Colourist", The Portland Gallery, 1988, p.8, pl.2

Catalogue Note

Cadell visited Venice in 1910, encouraged by his early patron, Patrick Ford, who gave him the sum of £150 “to go to Venice and paint”. He had studied in Munich in 1907 and had already held one solo exhibition (at Doig, Wilson & Wheatley, Edinburgh in 1908), but he was only in his 27th year and was still developing as an artist. That his style was mainly influenced by the impressionists at this early point  is apparent  in his free and painterly handling, but the effect of the trip to Venice on his work was dramatic. The vibrant colours of the city, along with Mediterranean light and sunshine, stimulated a passion for colour which resulted in joyous and energetic canvases, spontaneously painted and technically beyond anything he had done before.

During his stay, Cadell worked in both oil and watercolour, eagerly absorbing all aspects of the city, often recorded in on the spot sketches, en plein air. He studied the canals and boats; effects of glistening sunshine on water; the architectural splendour of church interiors and buildings; and also the hustle and bustle of the city’s population. St Mark’s Square, and the famous Florian’s Café in particular, frequented by wealthy tourists and locals alike was a subject he painted on a number of occasions (a similar painting was sold in these rooms: Florian’s Café, Venice, lot 61, The Scottish Sale, 22 April 2010). Cadell’s paintings captured the elegance of the Edwardian era; here we see a group of ladies gathered in fashionable attire – Cadell had a great eye for fashion and beauty, and these ladies would be incorporated into the design of his paintings for decades to come (see lots 11 and 29).

Just as café society had fascinated the artists of the Belle Époque, Cadell was drawn by the tumultuous riot of colourful fabrics, décor and the elegant silhouettes of the customers. From his viewpoint before the sun-bathed café terrace, Cadell captures the swirling movement of the busy square; an Italian flag in flashes of bright red and green sweeps down from the top right hand corner of the picture, fluttering above the diners’ hats, the distinctive ornate façade of St Mark’s Basilica beyond.

On his return to Edinburgh, his patron Patrick Ford selected six works to cover his £150 investment, and then chose a further four before the subsequent exhibition at Aitken Dott, Edinburgh. The exhibition was only a partial success, the works were such a departure that they proved a little too progressive for a contemporary audience.  It was, however, a pivotal moment in his career and established Cadell as one of the stars of the contemporary Scottish scene.