THE COLOURISTS FEATURE
F.C.B. Cadell (1883-1937)
Fashionably-dressed ladies sip Assam tea in smart drawing rooms in Edinburgh. others pose holding fans in front of paintings. and a model gazes at her reﬂections in a vast burnished mirror in the pale afternoon light. Cadell‘s loose. expressive depiction of bourgeois Edinburgh was inﬂuenced by the Impressionists. He chose the society which surrounded him as subject matter and used the bright palette of the Fauves. daring compositions and an effective simplification of form. Just after the First World War. his style changed dramatically and he began to use a palette of primary colours and tinted whites. Capturing the illumination ofthe subjects. his compositions became far more formal, with large flat areas ofcolour and harder edges. He lost the vigorous brushstroke of his earlier painting and critics remarked on the ‘new solidity’ of his work.
For a time Cadell was one of the most commercially successful of the Colourists and his frosty ladies retain their bewitching quality today.
J.D. F ergusson (1874—1961)
Of all the Colourists. Fergusson was most in touch with the French avant-garde and he lived in France until the outbreak of the War. After he spent the 1890s studying in Paris in the company of Peploe. his early work shows the influence of Whistler and Manet. with assertive brushwork and atmospheric surface colour. In later work. the influence of the Cubists and the Fauves is evident; using strong black outlines to act as a foil to areas of flat. glowing colour in the manner ofFrench artist. Albert Marquet. His portraits of the stylish women were provocative and shocking. Around this time, he also became interested in modern dance and the female nude. In one painting. Rhythm. the female form is reflected in the idyllic surroundings. where trees are laden with ripe fruit. Fergusson was the most versatile of the Colourists and as each new influence challenged his perceptions. he adapted it into his own highly personal style.
SJ. Peploe (1871—1935)
Best known for his still life studies of roses or tulips. Peploe‘s style evolved from one of dark backgrounds and pale colours. which nodded to Manet and the Dutch Masters. to one of bright. Fauvist colour which reveals the influence of Van Gogh. Cezanne. Matisse and the Jazz Age. Like Fergusson. he travelled wider and he was the first to paint Scottish landscape in a bright. fluid and colourful style. He also painted a considerable body of still life subjects and using a swift painting technique. he explored the geometric relationship between forms. using pronounced blue outlines.
Peploe went on to teach at Edinburgh College of Art for two terms and had a considerable impact on students. His best work spontaneous and seductive. using brilliant colour as a expression of his own passion.
G.L. Hunter (1879—1931)
The only Colourist to be born on the West coast. Hunter was the least consistent of the four. He spent his early years in San Francisco working as an illustrator and then moved back to Glasgow to become a painter. Tempering the influence of Van Gogh. Matisse and Cezanne. he painted still life and landscape in a fresh. light and expressive way.
In work such as. Reﬂections, Ballot-l1 (1929—30) Hunter interprets the muted tones of the Scottish landscape in a French style. With a strong. formal design. the limited range of flat colours are manipulated to create a vibrant and vivid painting. Now regarded as the most original and exciting ofthe Colourists. Hunter was intuitive in his approach. His painting illustrates his love of the viscosity of paint and use of the minimum of brushstrokes to depict each element.
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(top) The Blue Hat, Closerie des Lilas, J D Fergusson
(bottom) Woman at fireplace No.1, Robert MacBride
The List 3‘) July I I August l09417