William Macdonald’s most significant artistic friendship was with the Scottish Colourist, F.C.B. Cadell, and it is celebrated in this elegant portrait of William by his friend. From the distinctive colour of the background walls, and the inclusion of the striking red chair that appears in many of Cadell’s interior compositions, we can identify that this was painted in his Ainslie Place studio, which Cadell worked in from 1920. Cadell is well-known for his female portraits, and there are a whole series of elegant women dressed in black, but it is unusual to see a male figure depicted in this way. Here, William is elegantly dressed in black, including his signature black hat, with a white pocket square and polka dot cravat adding style and interest, while the warm tones of the studio walls and sharp bright colour of the chair add a dynamic contrast. Although William looks directly at us, and leans almost casually back against the chair, his expression remains enigmatic, drawing us in and adding depth to the stylish scene. Cadell was obviously satisfied with the composition as it later appears hanging in the background of his ‘Interior: The Red Chair’, c.1926, indicating that he had it on display in his studio for a period before it joined William Macdonald and Beatrice Huntington’s collection.
Head of Sale, Nick Curnow, introduces us to The Huntington/ Macdonald Collection. Married in 1925, the artists Beatrice L. Huntington (1889-1988) and William Macdonald (1883-1960) established a strong artistic partnership that lasted the entirety of their lives. Their joint collection features a fine selection of works by both artists alongside works by other artists, both friends & contemporaries of the couple.