Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell still life

Dahlias by Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell, £220,000 at Great Western Auctions.

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Dahlias by Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell (1883-1937) was an attractive example of the artist’s works from the late 1920s and possessed many, if not all, of the key commercial elements that dictate prices in this sector.

A fresh, vibrant and well balanced composition painted in a manageable domestic scale but with plenty of visual impact, it was described by the saleroom’s picture consultant Chris Brickley as having the “recognition factor” that is so important in the market.

“Still lifes are accessible and have that universal, timeless appeal,” he added.

Dated to c.1929, the 17.5 x 14.22in (44 x 36cm) signed oil on panel was painted at a time when Cadell had adopted a harder-edged style with the stronger outlines to the objects. It depicted some familiar studio props including the blue jug, small green Chinese bowl and silhouette which were set against the lilac wall in his studio that Cadell had first used in his paintings back in c.1915.

The interplay of pattern and colour, together with the strikingly stylised blooming dahlias, lifted this example above many Colourist work that emerge at auction. Also helping it commercially was the fact that it had an attractive provenance stretching back to Dr Arthur HH Sinclair, a leading surgeon who established an important art collection (his brother was an artist and member of the Society of Eight along with Cadell) and who had acquired this painting by the early 1930s.

Having descended through the Sinclair family until it as sold at Bonhams for £50,000 in 1999, it subsequently entered a private collection in Jersey from where it came to Great Western Auctions.

With prices for the four great Scottish Colourists – Cadell, Samuel Peploe, John Duncan Fergusson and George Leslie Hunter – having moved on significantly since then, here it was estimated at £100,000-200,000.

The saleroom’s managing director and auctioneer Anita Manning opened the bidding at £80,000 and two UK-based telephone bidders carried the bidding upwards in £5000 increments. After several minutes, it was knocked down at £220,000 with a round of applause greeting the fall of the gavel.

While the auction record for a Cadell still life remains the £575,000 for Still life with Tulips and Iona sold at Christie's in London in 2022, this sum was among the highest for an example sold in Scotland (only two that sold at Lyon & Turnbull have fetched more according to

Manning said: “Scottish Colourist still life works remain in demand, with an international fanbase. They are fresh, modern-looking, instantly recognisable and have a universal appeal, a century on from being created.”

The previous house record at Great Western was £54,000 for a northeast African kaskara sword with Arabic script along its full length which sold in December 2022.