Lot 26
  • 26

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

250,000 - 350,000 GBP
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  • Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell, R.S.A., R.S.W.
  • Interior, The Red Chair
  • signed l.l.: F.C.B. Cadell.; signed and inscribed on the reverse: Interior/ by F.C.B. Cadell/  Edinburgh/ To J Hume/ c/o McClure and Son/ 105 Wellington Street/ Glasgow
  • oil on canvas
  • 103 by 77cm., 40½ by 30¼in.


Sotheby's, Hopetoun House, 25 April 1989, lot 251, where purchased by the present owner


Tom Hewlett and Duncan Macmillan, F.C.B. Cadell, The Life and Works of a Scottish Colourist, 1883-1937, 2011, p.102, no.104, illustrated in colour


The following condition report has been provided by Hamish Deward Ltd.: UNCONDITIONAL AND WITHOUT PREJUDICE Structural Condition The canvas is unlined and is extensively inscribed on the reverse on what I assume is the original keyed stretcher. There is a small patch in the upper left quadrant as viewed from the reverse. Paint surface The paint surface has an even varnish layer. There is a pattern of faint craquelure, which is almost inevitable on an unlined canvas of this period, with faint stretcher-bar lines. There are also some drying cracks within the paint layers which are entirely stable and are as a result of the natural drying processes of the artist's materials. An example of this is in the pale pigments of the wall behind the pot plant. This is characteristic of the artist. Inspection under ultraviolet light shows just one very small retouching in the dark blue screen in the upper right of the composition. This corresponds to the patch on the reverse and is approximately 20 cm in from the right vertical framing edge and 18 cm below the upper horizontal framing edge. The painting would appear to have a slightly discoloured varnish layer and should respond well to cleaning. Summary The painting would therefore appear to be in very good and stable condition with minimal intervention in the past.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

In 1920 Cadell moved in to a new residence at 6 Ainslie Place. The building was one of the first houses in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town to be divided into flats and stood opposite Cadell’s childhood home at number 22. Despite being a flat Cadell’s quarters were still extensive and stretched over four floors with a grand ground floor dining room, two drawing rooms on the first floor linked by double doors, large kitchens and servants quarters in the basement. It was the rooms of 6 Ainslie Place and Cadell’s stylish decoration of them which became the inspiration and subject matter for a truly remarkable series of interiors painted during the 1920s and which arguably represent the high point of Cadell’s artistic career.

The present work depicts the corner of one of the drawing rooms on the first floor. The highly polished black floorboards and soft lilac walls were repeated from his previous studio in George Street. Cadell’s fascination with interior design is manifest and can be seen clearly throughout his career, however, the change in the decoration and composition of his interiors after the war years is marked. Gone is the clutter of his pre-war arrangements and instead there is a sparseness and selectivity of objects that mark a quite different approach to the interior genre. The influences on this aesthetic were myriad but Cadell’s interest in interior design ran parallel to developments in the Art Deco, a style which was defined in 1925, around the time that the present work was executed, at the Paris L'Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes. French interior designers, and particularly those in Paris, were utilising flat colours and brightly painted furniture, developments which are certainly comparable to Cadell’s artistic advances. Moreover, the prevailing artistic movements of the early twentieth century such as Cubism, Fauvism and Orphism had all experimented with the use of pure primary colour applied in flat geometric composition. It is all too easy to see direct influences in this international artist context and while Cadell would have been exposed to all of these developments it is difficult to suggest to what level he was informed and influenced by these; indeed, ‘Cadell was very much a man of his time, but the way he used things were certainly his own.’ (Tom Hewlett, F.C.B. Cadell, 2002, p.68)

Interior, The Red Chair is characteristic of Cadell’s style during this period, the composition is cropped, the application of paint flat and controlled and the colour bold and vivid. The painting is unpopulated with only a few pieces of carefully placed furniture; there is a sumptuous blue upholstered Louis XV style armchair, a simple rectangular mirror, a side table with an aspidistra carefully positioned on top and a cobalt-blue screen.  Hanging on the mauve wall is a painting which is probably the watercolour Jack and Tommy (National Galleries of Scotland) depicting the back of the heads of a Royal Scots guard and a sailor. The red chair itself features prominently in a number of works painted during this period and Cadell was clearly interested in the geometric qualities of the ladder-backed chair and its saturated colour. Several red painted dining chairs feature prominently in Interior with Red Chair of c.1922, Interior with Stove c.1921, The Red Chair of c.1922 and Aspidistra and Bottle on a Table (National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh). They were also used for two of Cadell's most significant nudes from this period, The Boxer and Pensive Negro both painted c.1921. Even the blue and yellow material draped casually over the grey-painted modelling dais, can be identified as the same cloth (perhaps a kimono) on the right side of Arum Lilies of c.1925. All these elements were carefully chosen for their contrasting colours, structure or tone and demonstrate Cadell's sophisticated and modern sense of aesthetic.

Over the space of less than a decade Cadell had moved away from the refracted gentile pictures of the pre-war years to a bold and distinctive style and the present work is a major example of this development and demonstrates Cadell's important position at the forefront of British artistic modernism.