Painting in frame for 10,000-fold increase

Sotheby' Clare Kennedy with The Red Fan by Francis Cadell
Sotheby' Clare Kennedy with The Red Fan by Francis Cadell
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A PAINTING by one of Edinburgh’s best-known artists looks set to fetch more than 10,000 times its original price when it goes under the hammer.

The 1920s picture, The Red Fan, by Francis Cadell, cost just £35 when it originally went up for sale in 1930.

But now it is expected to fetch closer to £350,000, when it is sold at Sotheby’s in London on May 10.

If it does sell for that sum it will mean that the painting has multiplied in value 10,000 times in 80 years. It will also become the fourth most valuable work by Edinburgh-born Cadell.

There has been a huge revival in the works of the 20th-century Scottish Colourists – Cadell, Fergusson, Hunter and Peploe – over the last 20 years, a fact confirmed at Sotheby’s in London on April 22, 2010, when Cadell’s oil painting, Florian’s Cafe, Venice sold for £553,250 – setting a new world auction record for a work by Cadell.

Before the auction, the picture had been expected to sell for between £150,000 and £250,000.

Ironically when Cadell died of cancer and in “considerable financial and physical distress” in Edinburgh at the age of 54 on December 6, 1937, he left only £495 and seventeen shillings in his will.

A Sotheby’s spokesman said: “The painting [The Red Fan] was likely completed in 1924 when Cadell lived at 6 Ainslie Place, Edinburgh, a fashionable residence that the artist filled with props such as fine china, silver and Japanese fans for decorative effect. These objects were often the subjects for Cadell’s still-life paintings from this period in Edinburgh and it is likely that the red fan and wine glass in the painting were the artist’s possessions.

“The Red Fan is a sophisticated painting that is representative of Cadell’s mature still life style of the 1920s.

“Its double-interior setting with the still life in the foreground and a fragment of another of his paintings, The Rose and Lacquer Screen, in the background, is demonstrative of Cadell’s mastery of using cropped compositions, a vivid palette and multiple perspectives to explore form and colour.”


Francis Campbell Boileau-Cadell was the son of surgeon Francis Cadell snr and Mary Hamilton Boileau.

He was born in Edinburgh on April 12, 1883, and was educated at Edinburgh Academy. He studied in Paris, before returning to the Capital in 1903, where he created most of his best-known works.

According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: “He established a niche in Edinburgh, painting portraits, figure subjects and still lifes that reflected the douce, middle class milieu of the New Town.

“His studios at 130 George Street and 6 Ainslie Place were usually as much the subject of his paintings as the sitters themselves.”