Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell

The Cheval Glass

Oil on canvas: 42(h) x 28(w) in /

106.7(h) x 71.1(w) cm

Signed lower left: FCB Cadell; inscribed on the stretcher

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FRANCIS CAMPBELL BOILEAU CADELL RSA RSW

 1883 – Edinburgh – 1937

 

The Cheval Glass

 

Signed lower left: FCB Cadell; inscribed on the stretcher

Oil on canvas: 42 x 28 in / 106.7 x 71.1 cm

Frame size: 50 ½ × 37 in / 128.3 × 94 cm

 

Painted circa 1914

 

Provenance:

George Watson’s College, Edinburgh, presented by John Thorburn in 1958

Private collection, UK

 

A rich and sophisticated portrait reflecting the style and confidence of both the artist and his muse, The Cheval Glass belongs to an accomplished series of pre-war interiors painted by Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell at his home and studio in Edinburgh. The elegant drawing room of 130 George Street, with its modern, monochromatic colour scheme of pale white, grey and violet walls and sleek black floor, reflected Cadell’s own dramatic and glamorous style.[1] Standing before, and reflected in, the tall dressing mirror also known as a Psyche, the striking Miss Bethia Hamilton Don Wauchope (1864–1944), looks out at the viewer, with her smartly-gloved hand at her waspish waist. A ‘wealthy society figure’ and the artist’s favourite model from circa 1911 to 1926,[2] Bethia is fashionably dressed with gold hooped earrings and a fabulous hat, each element of her attire in harmony with Cadell’s refined aesthetic and subtle tonality. Bethia wears the same hat and corsage before a mirror in Reflections, c.1915 (Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum,

Glasgow), but in the present work the portrait format reflecting her standing pose allows the viewer to admire the tout ensemble. Bright touches of colour from the flowers in Bethia’s outfit and within the artist’s own paintings reflected in the mirror, enliven the refined scheme.

 

Cadell’s painting of The Cheval Glass is remarkable both for its freedom and control, the strong calligraphic outlines executed with impressionistic vigour. Kenneth McConkey suggests Cadell’s application of paint may have been inspired by the late work of Manet as ‘he endeavours to convey the immediacy of his experience in brilliant slashing strokes’.[3] Whistler was another important influence, in particular his Symphony in White No. 2: The Little White Girl of 1864 (Tate), which had been exhibited alongside paintings by Cadell at the Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, in 1902. Cadell admired Whistler’s charismatic character as well as his work, writing to a friend that the artist ‘was a marvellous painter, the most exquisite of all the “moderns” and he had what some great painters have, a certain “amateurishness” which I rather like…I can best describe what I mean in these words, “A gentleman painting for his own amusement” (of course it must be said that the “gentleman” is a genius as well).’[4] Philip Long recounts that ‘Cadell established a similar reputation for himself, becoming a popular figure in Edinburgh society, well known for his witticisms and flamboyant dress. Stanley Cursiter, the artist and former director of the National Gallery of Scotland, described him as ‘careful in dress but seldom without a gay, distinctive note – shepherd tartan trousers – a blue scarf – a yellow waistcoat – or all the glory of

his kilt, but with all – an air!…His wit was constant and brilliant – constant, sardonic, Rabelaisian or lightly bantering – it was but an indication of many-sided accomplishment which found expression in colour, in verse and life itself.’ ’[5]

 

Seeking to bridge the gap between Edinburgh and Glasgow, Cadell founded and exhibited with the Society of Eight in 1912, its membership limited to like-minded artists united in their painterly approach, included Lavery and Adam. In a review of the Society’s exhibition of 1915, The Studio proclaimed: ‘Mr. Cadell is one of the most brilliant of the younger Scottish colourists much of whose inspiration has come from Parisian study.’[6] Though Cadell volunteered for military service in 1914, he was declared unfit before being able to join the 9th Battalion, The Royal Scots as a Private in 1915, with whom he served on the French front.[7] He was later commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in the 5th Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and demobilised in the spring of 1919. Cadell returned to the series after the war, employing a dramatically different style of angular, art-deco structures which had lost the freedom and spontaneity of his pre-war work.

 

Fig. 1 FCB Cadell, Reflections, c.1915.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow.

 

By the beginning of the nineteenth century the cheval glass (a full-length mirror suspended in a frame and which can be tilted at different angles) began to appear in fashion plates, a helpful aid in the depiction of a costume in the round. So in Cadell’s painting, an example of his customary dash and bravura when painting fashionable women (akin, in some ways, to that of John Singer Sargent), we see a double vision of his favourite muse, the stylish Berthia Hamilton Don Wauchope in a black silk morning dress. Over a straight skirt she wears a long jacket with a basque (the continuation of the bodice below the waist) of three frilled furbelows (flounces), the lowest one slightly elongated at the back. Long fairly close-fitting jackets and tunics had been popular for some years, but from the second decade of the twentieth century Paul Poiret had

begun to break up the column-like line of women’s dress by widening the silhouette at the hips. This trend in fashion was followed by many other fashion houses, including the celebrated Maison Chéruit[8] in the Place Vendôme), whose Costume tailleur (fig. 2) is in a similar spirit, as is the blue serge jacket with coral buttons in fig. 3. From 1914 black (as mourning) became a familiar sight in dress, but in The Cheval Glass it’s fashionable and flattering,[9] relieved by touches of colour – a corsage of pink flowers, a gold belt buckle at the waist, and white gauntlet gloves. Hats at this period are often absurdly charming (see fig. 3), and Don Wauchope’s is very much

in this mood, a white cloche with a black band on which is pinned a coquettish sprig of red roses.

 

Aileen Ribeiro

 

     

Fig. 2 Costume tailleur de Chéruit, Gazette du Bon Ton, 1914.

Fig. 3 Costume de serge fine garni de petits boutons de corail, Journal des Dames et des Modes, 1914.

 

FRANCIS CAMPBELL BOILEAU CADELL RSA RSW

1883 – Edinburgh – 1937

 

Flamboyant, eccentric and witty, Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell was one of the Four Scottish Colourists. Born into a prosperous Edinburgh family, he was encouraged to train as a painter by Arthur Melville (1855-1904), a leading member of the Glasgow School. He attended the Royal Scottish Academy School from 1897 – 1899 and spent the following eight years in Paris, where he studied at the Académie Julian from 1898 – 1902. Whilst in Paris, Cadell was inspired by a number of influences including the Impressionists, Henri Matisse and the Fauves. He also visited the great Paul Cézanne and Vincent Van Gogh exhibitions. Perhaps the greatest influence during this period was James Abbott McNeil Whistler, whose Memorial Exhibition he saw at the Luxembourg in 1905.

 

Cadell moved to Germany with his family in 1906 and enrolled at the Academie der Bildenden Künste in Munich the following year.  He returned to Edinburgh in 1908 and held his first one-man exhibition at Doig, Wilson & Wheatley. The following year he made a trip to Venice, financed by Sir Patrick Ford, who became one of his most important patrons. During the First World War he served as a Private in the 9th Battalion, The Royal Scots and then obtained a commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the 5th Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. After the war, Cadell adopted a new intensity of colour and the use of thickly applied paint. This stylistic development is most evident in his pictures of Edinburgh interiors, which, with their flat areas of boldly juxtaposed colours, reveal most clearly the influence of the Fauves and Matisse.

 

From about 1913 until his health began to deteriorate in 1935, Cadell made Iona his second home. He acquired a croft and visited the island annually in order to paint the landscape out of doors. Many of these landscapes were painted over a wet white ground and this technique resulted in a luminosity and brilliance of colour, one of the most striking features of his work. Cadell was a founder and life-long member of the Society of Eight from its inception in 1912.  He was elected a member of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolours in 1935 and was made a Royal Scottish Academician in 1936, one year prior to his death.

 

The work of Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell is represented in Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums; Gracefield Arts Centre, Dumfries and Galloway; Dumfries Museum and Camera Obscura; Lillie Art Gallery, East Dunbartonshire; University of Dundee; Dundee Art Galleries and Museums; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, University of Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh Council, Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture (RSA), Edinburgh; Kirkcaldy Galleries, Fife; Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow;  McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Inverclyde; Paisley Museum and Art Galleries, Renfrewshire; Perth & Kinross Council; Hawick Museum, Scottish Borders Council; The National Trust for Scotland; Touchstones, Rochdale; The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke; Brighton and Hove Museums; Doncaster Museum & Art Gallery; Ferens Art Gallery, Hull; Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool; Manchester City Galleries; Museums Sheffield and The Fleming Collection, London.

 

[1] Cadell moved into his first Scottish studio on George St in 1909 (following the death of his father) and remained there until 1913.

[2] See Alice Strang, F.C.B. Cadell, exh. cat. National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, 2011, p.18. ‘The daughter of Sir John Don-Wauchope of Niddrie. Miss Don-Wauchope, who remained unmarried, is known to have sat for Cadell on a number of occasions in the 1910s and 1920s…She was apparently recognised among Edinburgh

society for her beauty, but little else is known about Bethia Don-Wauchope’s character or personality.’ Philip Long, ‘Study in Black’, Art Quarterly, autumn 2000, p.29.

[3] Kenneth McConkey, Edwardian Portraits – Images in an Age of Opulence, 1987, p.215.

[4] Philip Long, ‘Study in Black’, Art Quarterly, autumn 2000, p.30.

[5] Philip Long, ‘Study in Black’, Art Quarterly, autumn 2000, p.30.

[6] RN, ‘Studio Talk: Edinburgh – The annual exhibition of the Society of Eight’, The Studio, vol.64, no.263, March 1915, p.59.

[7] See Alice Strang, op.cit., p.35.

[8] Name-checked in Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu.

[9] Other images of the sitter by Cadell show her fondness for black, but because of the artist’s impressionist style one can’t be sure if the costume we see in The Cheval Glass is precisely depicted elsewhere. For example, in Cadell’s Reflections (Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum; fig. 1) Don Wauchope appears in the same black jacket with its pink corsage, but worn with a different, wide, skirt; she also wears the identical cloche hat.

Modern BritishFrancis Campbell Boileau Cadell