I love hats! When I turned over my art calendar for December 6, 2021, I knew without looking ahead that Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell’s “A Lady in Black” would be my choice for the #FridayPainting.
Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell RSA (Royal Scottish Academy)born on April 12, 1883 was a Scottish Colourist painter, known for his paintings of Edinburgh’s elegant New Town interiors. He also painted scenes of Iona, while on his visits to the island with his friend and fellow Colourist, Samuel Peploe.
The first time I heard of the Scottish Colourists was through Alexander McCall Smith’s serial novels involving the residents that live at 44 Scotland Street. Pat Macgregor, who works in a small art gallery, believes that she has discovered a painting by Samuel Peploe. But I digress…
The Scottish Colourists were a group of four painters: Francis Cadell, John Duncan Fergusson, Leslie Hunter and Samuel Peploe.
Francis Cadell was left handed which caused concern that his paintings would not be “great.” Even the President of the Royal Scottish Academy suggested that he refrain from painting with his left hand. “No artist ever became great who did so,” he admonished.
Francis Cadell’s response was quick and to the point: “Sir and did not the great Michelangelo paint with his left hand?” When asked by another student how he came to know that Michelangelo was left-handed, Cadell confessed “I didn’t know but nor did the president.”
The National Galleries Scotland has a brilliant video that provide an overview of the Colourists, which I have included for your viewing pleasure.
One of a series of paintings for which Cadell is justly famed, this elegant, fashionably dressed woman is portrayed in the lavish setting of a Edinburgh New Town drawing room. Carefully posed, her arm resting on the back of her chair, she is arrayed in a fur collar, kid gloves and with a glint of gold hoop earring against an impressive feathered hat – the height of sophistication. An added sense of light and depth is introduced by the reflection in the mirror, a favourite device often used by the artist. The pink roses and the porcelain vase add to the sense of richness in the composition and are freely painted in fast, loose brushstrokes.