Francis Campbell Bolleau Cadell was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on April 12, 1883. As an artist he was known as F. C. B. Cadell. Between 1899 and 1902 he studied art at the Academie Julien in Paris and his earliest works show how he was mainly influenced at that time by the French Impressionists.
Cadell was left-handed and the President of the Royal Scottish Academy attempted to persuade him to paint with his right hand, arguing that an artist of any worth uses the right hand for painting. Cadell won the argument by claiming (rightly as it turned out) that Michelangelo always used his left hand.
After making Edinburgh his artistic base, Cadell started having his works exhibited in Glasgow and in London, as well as being displayed in local galleries and art shows. In 1912 he made his first visit to the Scottish island of Iona and throughout his life Cadell continued to go there on painting trips. The rest of the year he remained in the Edinburgh region, producing local landscapes, interior scenes, still life subjects and portraits.
The progressive ideas that were creating new art movements across Europe in the early years of the twentieth century appear to have had very little influence on the artistic style of F. C. B. Cadell in the 1910s when he continued to paint impressionistic paintings, mostly of beautiful women. In those portraits the focus is on the sitter, painted loosely in darker tones to stand out in contrast against lighter surroundings in pale cream, highlighted with dashes of orange, blue and green.
Cadell started using more vivid colors in his paintings following a visit to Venice in 1910 when he began to develop his own unique style.
During the First World War Cadell joined up for military service with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and he also served with the 9th Royal Scots regiment. After the war he started to develop a new style of painting. He made more dramatic use of form and used strong primary colors to define his subjects, painting on untreated board and not allowing any of his works to be varnished.
Cadell developed as an artist largely through his association with Samuel John Peploe, a Post-Impressionist Scottish painter who strongly favoured the modern style developed by French painters. The two artists went to Iona together and returned there several times over the years, always during the summer months. Cadell had no interest in painting winter scenes. He only wanted to paint landscapes in brighter light conditions.
During the 1920s Cadell painted his subjects with a distinctive angularity and made vibrant use of color and his later works were more highly patterned.
Peploe and Cadell became part of a collective known as the Scottish Colourists, along with John Duncan Fergusson and Leslie Hunter. The name came from the way they made bold use of bright color in all their art.
It was difficult for Cadell to support himself as an artist in the economic depression of 1932-1935 and he lived in poverty until his death on December 6, 1937. The paintings of F. C. B. Cadell are now in great demand and those that have come onto the market in recent years have reached a very high selling price.