Flamboyant, eccentric and witty, Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell was one of the Four Scottish Colourists. Born into a prosperous Edinburgh family, he was encouraged to train as a painter by Arthur Melville, a leading member of the Glasgow School. He attended the Royal Scottish Academy School from 1897 - 1899 and spent the following eight years in Paris, where he studied at the Academie Julien. Whilst in Paris, Cadell came under a variety of influences including the Impressionists, Henri Matisse and the Fauves. He also visited the Cezanne and Van Gogh exhibitions. However, arguably the greatest influence during this period was Whistler, whose Memorial Exhibition he saw in 1905.
In 1910 he made a trip to Venice, financed by Sir Patrick Ford, who became one of his most improtant patrons. During the First World War he served as a Private in the Royal Scots and then obtained a commission in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. From about 1913 until his health began to deteriorate in 1935, Cadelll made Iona his second home. He acquired a croft and visited the island annually in order to paint the landscape en plein air. Many of these landscapes were painted over a wet white ground and this technique resulted in a luminosity and brilliance of colour, one of the most striking features of his work. Cadell was a founder and life-long member of the Society of Eight from its inception in 1912. He was elected a member of the Royal Scottish Society of Academicians in 1936, one year prior to his death.