Of all the landscape views painted by the Colourists it is perhaps Iona which is one of the most characteristic.
Cadell was the first of the Colourists to visit Iona, in 1913. Sailing with a friend around the Western Islands he was immediately captivated by the remote, beautiful island - enchanted by the deserted white sandy beaches and rocky shores, the sea which changed colour with the weather from turquoise and azure blue to dark green and grey and the views, which altered every time he looked at them.
Temporarily prevented from his summer trips during the First World War, Cadell returned in 1919 and the following year persuaded his friend Peploe to join him, thus beginning a decade which saw both artists make many visits to Iona and complete many hundreds of paintings of the island. The artists would often sit side-by-side painting an identical view, and whilst they quite naturally influenced each other they also brought to the same subject their different styles and approaches.
Over the years Cadell and Peploe developed techniques adapted to the conditions on Iona. To cope with the often changeable weather they worked mainly on lightweight panels or boards, sometimes bought ready-made from art suppliers, but more often on panels which they cut to a standard size so that they could carry them round easily. To represent the chalky appearance of sand they made great use of the brilliant white absorbent ground of the panels, dabbing most of the oil out of the paint before applying it. A stern note is often written on the reverse of these panels in Cadell's own hand, 'Absorbent ground, NEVER varnish', as seen on the reverse of the present panel.