Review of Last Lecture
We had a last minute change of plan for the Society's November evening. Mr. Peter Scott kindly stepped in at the last minute because our expected speaker had a family crisis. Peter entertained us with a multitude of splendid slides illustrating the work of the Scottish Colourists, a follow on group from “The Glasgow Boys”. Not only were they a little younger than their Glaswegian predecessors, they also lived in Edinburgh. All four were born into comfortable homes, and were expected to enter the professions, or take over papa's whisky business. They decided to follow different paths, but were enabled by family circumstances to set up home in spacious Edinburgh apartments and live comfortable lives.
Our first subject was Samuel John Peploe. He, like his fellow colourists, was influenced by France and the many painters living in Paris at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Paris, was, after all, the artistic centre of the universe at the time. Fauvism was in vogue, using extreme colours when representing everyday subjects. Painting 'en plein air' was also fashionable.
Peploe embraced it enthusiastically. His use of strong colours in still life, striking black backgrounds and geometrical shapes to construct his paintings were all in the latest fashion yet still livable with today. The South of France, of course, attracted him, with its amazing light, and scenes from there, and from his native Scotland lit up the screen.
Peploe wore a three piece suit to paint, occasionally donning a smock. So did his fellow colourists, including John Duncan Fergusson. Fergusson painted portraits of young Edinburgh ladies, entertaining many of them to tea in his spacious apartment. He was influenced by Whistler as well as France. He fell madly in love with Marjorie Morris and moved to Antibes where she taught Isadora Duncan style dancing and he painted the young ladies floating about in the sunshine. During the first world war Fergusson visited Portsmouth and painted the ships being repaired in the Dazzle camouflage. The war had brought the idyll of Antibes to a close and life in Scotland was a little more restrained.
A self taught painter was George Leslie Hunter. His family had moved to California to grow oranges, but the earthquakes ruined everything and they returned to Scotland for a fresh start. Hunter was less comfortable financially than the other three, who were not a tight knit group, but were given the label in 1948. Hunter was also influenced by life in France and the charms of Venice. He dabbled in watercolours most successfully but used oils most of the time.
The last member of the Colourists spoken about by Peter Scott was Francis Campbell Boileau (Bunty) Cadell. He trained at the Scottish Royal Academy and in France. He was the wealthiest of them and lived extremely well in a very large apartment, entertaining the Edinburgh ladies to tea and generally enjoying himself. His paintings included Iona, a favoured place by them all with its silver sand, as well as portraits and still life paintings.
All four of them used the rather extreme colours introduced by the Fauvists, and painted a great many out door scenes – 'en plain air'. They were ignored for a while but the eighties saw them
coming back into fashion. The feast of beauty which the members enjoyed at our November meeting was a delight.
Francis Cadell - The Black Hat.