Lot 35
  • 35

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

200,000 - 300,000 GBP
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  • Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell, R.S.A., R.S.W.
  • Pink Carnations
  • signed l.r.: F.C.B. Cadell.; titled and signed on a label attached to the reverse
  • oil on panel
  • 38 by 45.5cm., 15 by 18in.


Wilton Greenhill Esq.;
Aitken Dott & Son, Edinburgh;
Portland Galleries, London, 1988, where purchased by the present owners


Edinburgh, Royal Scottish Academy, 1934, no.275


The panel appears sounds and stable. The work is in excellent overall condition with a richly textured surface. The work is clean and ready to hang. UV light inspection reveals no evidence of any retouching or restoration. Held in a gilt plaster frame.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Pink Carnations was probably painted in the early 1930s; it was first exhibited in 1934 at the Royal Scottish Academy. It closely resembles Pink Roses in a Blue Jug and Still Life with Roses in a Blue Jug both painted c.1928 and Pink Roses (sold in these rooms, 13 November 2012, lot 132). In these, and several other pictures from this period, Cadell included a silhouette in a black frame to add a sophisticated monochrome element to a colour scheme that was otherwise floral against a background of pearly white. Every element is carefully chosen for a pleasing effect and the removal of any of the arranged items would diminish the overall harmony of the composition. The curvature of the Chinese porcelain cup and the clear drinking-glass contrasts with the angular lines of the folded paper fan, the lacquer frame and the edge of the polished table-top. Cutting dynamically across the carefully placed objects, the arabesques of the carnation stems draw the focus outwards through the picture to the pale pink flowers. The flowers are not carefully arranged and have an organic spontaneity that is suggestive of casual elegance, contrasted with the austerity of the profile portrait behind.

The inclusion of Oriental blue-and-white porcelain, Chinese fans and large expanses of white, may partly have been Cadell consciously echoing the Aestheticism of his countryman James Abbott McNeil Whistler, who had used similar elements in his interiors more than half a century earlier. The silhouette may be a nod to the Georgian elegance of Cadell’s studio.

The cool colours and expressive brushstrokes of Pink Carnations exemplify the bold style Cadell developed after the First World War. The overall effect is quite different from the Impressionistic paintings Cadell painted c.1925, for example The Black Hat. The development of Cadell's style towards paintings of a stronger, brighter colour and almost architectural structure demonstrate the clear influence of Peploe, in particular his still lifes of similar floral subjects, such as Still Life of Roses and an Open Book (Sotheby's, Hopetoun House, 24 April 2006, lot 129) and Still Life of Roses and Oranges (Sotheby's, Hopetoun House, 24 April 2006, lot 127). It was indirectly through Peploe, who had spent more time in France, that Cadell became acquainted with the French avant-garde tendencies such as the hatched strokes typical of Cezanne's late works and the bright palette of the Fauves. After seeing Cadell's first London exhibition at the Leicester Galleries in 1923, the art critic for the Sunday Observer wrote, 'Mr Cadell follows him (Peploe) so closely, both in colour and subject matter that it would be hard to distinguish between the two were it not that Mr Cadell's emphasis of designs leans him towards the two dimensional... he has gained conspicuously in his solidity of handling. There was a time when he took things a little too easily and relied too heavily on the charms of his gay palette - when his pictures were clever suggestions... which left too much to be filled by the spectator's plastic imagination.' (Tom Hewlett, Cadell, The Life and Works of a Scottish Colourist 1883-1937, p. 62) The Sunday Observer also noted that 'Not a trace of the earlier Cadell is left... although his colour has lost none of its charm and harmonious brightness.'