Colourists Lead Scottish Art Sale
On 22 November in London, an exceptional group of paintings by the Scottish Colourists will lead Sotheby’s annual Scottish Art sale. The pioneering achievements of the Colourists changed the face of Scottish painting in the first half of the 20th century. Following extended sojourns in France, they took the ground-breaking developments in pictorial space and colour by artists such as Cézanne, Van Gogh and Matisse to forge their own path. A selection of interiors, still lifes and landscapes by these daring modernists will be offered alongside works that represent the painterly traditions of Scottish art in the 19th century and artists working today.
The contents of this year’s 70-lot auction, which follows the success of last November’s relaunched Scottish Art sale, will be on public exhibition at The Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh from 5 to 7 November, prior to viewing in Sotheby’s New Bond Street galleries.
Interior, The Red Chair belongs to a remarkable series of interiors painted by Cadell during the 1920s which arguably represent the high point of the artist’s career. In 1920 he moved into a new residence at 6 Ainslie Place in Edinburgh where the rooms and Cadell’s stylish decoration of them provided him with his inspiration and subject matter. The painting demonstrates Cadell’s important position at the forefront of British modernism and is characteristic of the bold and distinctive style he developed during the post-war years. The cropped composition, the flat application of paint, and vivid colours, reveal the artist’s sophisticated sense of aesthetic. His interest in interior design ran parallel to developments in Art Deco, a style which was defined in 1925, around the time this work was painted. Set against the highly polished black floorboards and soft lilac walls, a series of elements have been carefully chosen for their contrasting colours, structure or tone – the red chair itself, a sumptuous blue upholstered Louis XV-style armchair, a rectangular mirror, a side table with an aspidistra, and a cobalt-blue screen.
Cadell had as many as six studios throughout his career and each of his interior scenes is unique. Although in a less fashionable part of Edinburgh than his flat at Ainslie Terrace, 30 Regent Terrace was an enticing proposal for the maturing artist. The walls were painted mauve with white wood panelling, a tonal palette reflected faithfully in Interior, 30 Regent Terrace with Easel, one of a series of elegant and intimate interiors painted by Cadell during the 1930s. In this variation on his studio pictures from the 1920s, the artist’s characteristic motifs, including a chair laid with drapery, remain prominent; utilising a more subdued palette, he places the same emphasis on design. The focus on apertures as key to composition, with open doors part-obscuring objects of interest, is undoubtedly reminiscent of the 17th-century Dutch painters Johannes Vermeer and Pieter de Hooch.
At auction for the first time, Still Life with Tulips and Oranges is a dynamic example of Peploe’s experimental style from the period when he lived in Paris between 1910 and 1912. In a strikingly modern series of still-lifes, the artist transformed his approach to painting with brighter contrasting colour and tone. This work demonstrates the avant-garde innovations being made in the French capital in the early 20th century, when Peploe was inspired by his desire to explore a different way to interpret still-life and landscape subjects. Here, he emphasised pattern and design by employing a deliberately flattened perspective and lines of dark paint around objects. There would be no looking back for Peploe as his painting entered a new phase.
Painted in the early 1930s, Pink Carnations was first exhibited in 1934 at the Royal Scottish Academy. In several pictures from this period, Cadell included a silhouette in a black frame to give a sophisticated monochrome element to a colour scheme that was otherwise floral against a pearlescent white background. The development of Cadell’s style towards paintings of a stronger, brighter colour and almost architectural structure demonstrate the clear influence of Peploe. It was indirectly through him that Cadell became acquainted with the hatched strokes typical of Cézanne’s late works and the bright palette of the Fauves.
Still Life with Roses was acquired in Edinburgh in the 1930s and has remained in private hands ever since. A superb example of Peploe’s mature work, the painting is an essay in dynamism of both composite form and colour. A largely blue-purple muted tonal range is charged by the red, orange and yellow highlights of the blooms. Throughout the 1920s, Peploe strove to perfect the subtle colour combinations within his still life compositions. The meticulous nature of his working method is disguised by the ea
Never previously offered at auction, The White Strand, Iona was painted circa 1925 on the far northeast shore of the island situated off the west coast of Mull. Peploe made his first visit to Iona in August 1920 on the invitation of his friend Cadell, who had painted the rugged coastal scenery since his first visit in 1912. Both artists found the beautiful island offered a tranquil respite from the tensions of life in Edinburgh. As with his studio still-lifes, Peploe approached this subject with a methodical and painterly eye – he particularly liked the way that the white sand beneath the shallows of the bay created ever-changing blues as it reflected the skies above.
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Exhibition at The Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh: 5-7 November 2016
Auction in London: 22 November
EXHIBITION IN EDINBURGH
Saturday 5 November, 9.30 am-5 pm
Sunday 6 November, 9.30 am-5 pm
Monday 7 November, 9.30 am-1 pm
The Assembly Rooms, 54 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2LR
EXHIBITION IN LONDON
Thursday 17 November, 9 am-4.30 pm Friday 18 November, 9 am-4.30 pm Sunday 20 November, 12 noon-5 pm Monday 21 November, 9 am-4.30 pm