Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell, R.S.A., R.S.W. (1883-1937)
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Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell, R.S.A., R.S.W. (1883-1937)

The White Villa, Cassis

Details
Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell, R.S.A., R.S.W. (1883-1937)
The White Villa, Cassis
signed 'F.C.B. Cadell' (lower left), signed again and inscribed 'The White Villa/F.C.B. Cadell' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
29¼ x 24 3/8 in. (74.3 x 61.9 cm.)
Provenance
with Fine Art Society, London, 1984.
Exhibited
London, Fine Art Society, Cadell, 1983, no. 38.
London, Fine Art Society, Spring, 1984, no. 52.
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Lot Essay

Cadell visited the south of France in the spring of 1923. Drawn to the bright light of the Mediterranean, he then returned the following year; this time to Cassis, a small fishing port not far from Marseilles. He was accompanied by S.J. Peploe, whose suggestion it was to return to the coast where he and Fergusson had painted so well in 1913. Cadell stayed in Cassis for several months: the vividly coloured houses on the waterfront and the open rolling countryside in the hills above the village were natural subject matter for him, leading him to produce some of his most inspired work of the period (see T. Hewlett and D. Macmillan, F.C.B. Cadell: The life and works of a Scottish Colourist, 1883 - 1937, London, 2011, p. 92).

Throughout their careers, the Colourists drew inspiration from the two grands maîtres of modern French art - Matisse and Cézanne, and they sought to combine their principles in their own work. It is no coincidence therefore that The White Villa, Cassis undoubtedly steers towards the lyricism of Matisse in its tonal values, for Cassis had attracted Matisse in 1905. Indeed, it was specifically the Fauves' art of the warm south which had attracted the Colourists to paint these Mediterranean towns and their environs.

Looking at The White Villa, Cassis, it is no wonder the beauty of the town's setting absorbed Cadell. Our eye is drawn to the cliffs in the background: pierced by narrow, precipitous coves and set against a cobalt blue sky. The sense of place is clearly expressed through the use of local colour: terracotta roofs baking in the Mediterranean sun; white buildings with coloured shutters, this is Cadell at the height of Fauvism: bold, fresh and bright. Indeed, it is this use of bright colours and strong, solid lines which led to Cadell's Cassis paintings being very well received on his return to Edinburgh: his style seemed to many to be more understandable in these French landscapes (Hewlett and Macmillan, ibid., p. 94).

The view of the street, divided into rectangles of white light and blue and lilac shades, is marked by the same intense colour that is seen in Cadell's contemporary still life paintings. Furthermore, the planar compositions of his earlier Edinburgh interiors are transformed to the white walls of the houses and hotels as they climbed up the streets to the hills behind the town. 'The light gave a new intensity to his colour, deep blue skies contrasting with the pinks and whites of the houses, the reds of roofs and the lush greens of vegetation. It was an image that he brought back to Scotland with him and the same intensity of light can be found in some of the Iona paintings of 1925-28' (R. Billcliffe, The Scottish Colourists: Cadell, Fergusson, Hunter, Peploe, London, 1989, p. 56).

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