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SO who were the Scottish Colourists? The term has now become inextricably associated with the work of the famous four, but the name was coined when three of the four were already dead.

Largely ignored by collectors in their day, Peploe, Hunter and Cadell subsequently featured in a book written by art critic T.J. Honeyman, published in 1950, titled Three Scottish Colourists.

Fergusson was omitted because he spent much of his life working in France, but the name stuck and the Colourists are now recognised as arguably the most avant-garde British artists of their day.

While Scottish by birth, their brightlycoloured still-lifes, shimmering interiors and vibrant landscapes were inspired by their time spent in Paris at the turn of the 20th century, a time when the city fizzed with modernity and artistic expression.

Of the three, it was Samuel John Peploe (1871-1935) who suffered most rejection and yet made the most impact. He was born in Edinburgh and at 22 was attending classes at Edinburgh College of Art (then called the Trustees' Academy).

He made his first visit to Paris in 1894 where he met Fergusson and together, they made painting trips to Northern France and the Hebrides.

He is best known for still lifes of roses and tulips, although his landscapes are dramatic and vivid, notably those painted on the Isle of Barra, where he met his wife.

George Leslie Hunter (1879-1931) was born in Rothesay, but his parents emigrated to California when he was a small child and he became a magazine illustrator.

He spent two years in Paris from 1904, exhibited with Peploe and Cadell in London in 1923 and, joined Fergusson, in Paris in 1924 and in London in 1925. Restless for France, he moved to work there from 1927 until ill health forced him to return to Glasgow where he died.

Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell (1883-1937) was born in Edinburgh but found himself in Paris at the tender age of 16. He studied at the Academie Julian, where he was influenced by the Impressionism movement.

His subject matter at this time was still lifes of bottles and fans; the fashionable interiors of townhouses and portraits of glamorous women.

However, a dramatic change in his work can be seen after the First World War, during which he served with the 9th Argyll, 9th Royal Scots and the Sutherland Highlanders.

This resulted in an increasing difficulty for him to sell his pictures during the already harsh economic times of the 1930s.

The exceptions were the landscapes he painted during summers spent on the island of Iona in the Western Isles. He died in Edinburgh.

John Duncan Fergusson (1874-1961) was born in Leith and was the most versatile of the Colourists. His success in America made him also perhaps the most highly rewarded financially.

He moved to Paris in the 1890s where he studied the Impressionists and held his first one-man show in 1923, followed by exhibitions with Peploe, Hunter and Cadell in London and Paris and alone in New York, before returning to settle in Paris in 1925. He died in Edinburgh.

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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Jun 9, 2018
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