The paintings were purchased between the 1920s and the 1940s by the Edinburgh collector Walter Quarry Wood, President of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, with the advice of Duncan Macdonald of the renowned dealers Alex Reid and Lefevre and hung for many years in his family’s residence in the city’s New Town.
The highlights of the collection are undoubtedly several paintings by FCB Cadell, with whom the Wood family had a personal connection.
Cadell’s two outstanding Iona paintings Sandbank and the Sound of Mull and Roina in the Sound of Mull reflect his spiritual attachment to the holy island, which he visited frequently from 1920 until his death, often in the company of his lifelong friend SJ Peploe. It is thus particularly fitting that these works should be complemented by an equally important painting by Peploe of Iona Abbey, painted in the 1920s from the high ground above the church. The maritime theme is further echoed in Leslie Hunter’s evocative image of Boats in Harbour.
Peploe’s vital attachment to the South of France is also present here, in an important, typically pale-toned study of trees in a landscape, painted in Cassis in 1928 and inscribed by the artist’s wife.
The Colourists excelled at still life painting and the Wood collection contains no less than five major examples of their work in this genre. Alongside the contrasting tones of GL Hunter’s Still Life of Roses and Fruit, sits Cadell’s exuberant and painterly Still Life of Roses, while one of the best known paintings in the collection is surely the same artist’s magisterial The Wedgwood Vase, widely exhibited in major Colourist exhibitions between 1928 and 2011.
The collection is completed with two outsanding Peploe still lifes. Still Life of Tulips in a Vase and the similarly sized Still Life of Roses in a Green Vase present superb examples of the artist’s softer, late style of the early 1930s.