Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell (12 April 1883 – 6 December 1937) was a Scottish painter associated with the Scottish Colourists.
Francis Cadell was born in Edinburgh, the son of a surgeon and was educated at the Edinburgh Academy. His sister was Jean Cadell a well-known actress. From the age of 16 he studied in Paris at the Académie Julian, where he was in contact with the French avant-garde of the day. While in France, his exposure to work by the early Fauvists, and in particular Matisse, proved to be his most lasting influence. After his return to Scotland, he was a regular exhibitor in Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as in London.
Cadell was a left-handed painter. While a student, the President of the Royal Scottish Academy tried to stop him painting with his left hand because 'No artist ever became great who did so.' Cadell swiftly replied 'Sir and did not the great Michelangelo paint with his left hand?' The President did not respond and left the room quickly. A fellow student asked Cadell how he had known that Michelangelo was left-handed. Cadell confessed 'I didn't know but nor did the president.'
Cadell spent much of his adult life in Scotland and had little direct contact with many of the new ideas that were being developed abroad. He therefore tended to use subjects and environments that were close at hand – landscapes, fashionable Edinburgh New Town house interiors, still life and figures in both oil and watercolour. He is particularly noted for his portraits of glamorous women whom he painted in a loose, impressionistic manner, depicting his subject with vibrant waves of colour. He enjoyed the landscape of Iona enormously, which he first visited in 1912 and features prominently in his work. During the 1920s he spent several summers with Samuel Peploe, another Scottish Colourist, on painting trips to Iona, and was also friends with the Scot architect Reginald Fairlie.
During World War I he served in the 9th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and the 9th Royal Scots regiments.
He lived at and 2Ainslie Place, Edinburgh from 1920-1932. He then lived at 30 Regent Terrace from 1932-1935 where he found it more and more difficult to sell his paintings because of the economic climate. He finally moved to Warriston Crescent where he died in poverty in 1937. His paintings are now (2009) worth £200,000-£300,000.
Caddell's Estate is represented by Portland Gallery, London.