Scottish Colourist, F.C.B. Cadell’s Iona North End and Ben More, Mull was one of the highlights of our Scottish Paintings & Sculpture auction, reaching £66,050 in May 2014.
Cadell visited Iona almost every summer from 1912 for the next two decades. The local community treated Bunty (as he was known) as one of their own and he felt an enormous affinity with the island as is demonstrated by One Sunday in Iona, his poem from 1913. From the poem it is clear that Cadell felt that Iona was sacred and therapeutic, a sentiment Peploe shared in a letter to Bunty: "after the war I'll go to the Hebrides and recover some of the virtues I have lost."
Warmed by the sun, blown by the wind I sat
Upon the hill top looking at the sound.
Down in the church beneath, the people sat
On chairs and laughed and frowned.
No chairs for me when I can lie
And air myself upon the heather
And watch the fat bees buzzing by
And smell the small of summer weather
Let them bow down to God unfound
For me the sound that stretches round
For me the flowers scented ground
Upon the hilltop, looking at the sound.
No church for me to worship in
Confined by walls of dank dark stone.
For rather I can worship Him
When I am out in his fair world
One Sunday in Iona by F.C.B Cadell
This painting shows the view from the north edge of the island, looking east across the Sound to Mull. The mountain peaking over the top of the headland in the distance is Ben More.
The rapidly changing weather on the West Coast presented a challenge to the artist which, in fact, worked to his advantage. Cadell was technically brilliant and almost never produced preliminary sketches. On Iona he was able to paint directly onto the panel in the open air, immediately grasping the perspective, light, shadows and colour of the scene before him. This immediacy lends his works a sublime freshness; one can almost smell the sea air, hear the waves and feel the sand underfoot.