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Cadell's Summery Spontaneity

This lad was painted with an apparent haste suited to his stance - a stance suggesting limited forbearance. "All right," the boy seems to say, "paint me if you must, but hurry up! I've got better things to do."

The Scottish artist Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell (1883-1937) - history has dubbed him a "Scottish Colourist" along with some of his contemporaries - clearly appreciated the boy's eagerness to be off.

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Spontaneity, in Cadell's earlier work at least, was expressed by means of an inborn facility. It was as if his painting was a natural outcome of a highly enjoyable life. Even a hint of hard labor would ruin this vitality.

According to Roger Billcliffe, in whose book "The Scottish Colourists" this painting is reproduced, Cadell painted it in 1919-20 just after his service in World War I. He painted it on the island of Iona, off Scotland's west coast.

Throughout the war Cadell had longed particularly for this island, which he had first visited in 1912. He was to go back summer after summer to Iona to paint.

And even when his art grew into a more precise and fiercely colored version of modernism in the works he produced at his studio in Edinburgh, his Iona paintings continued to have a summer-holiday atmosphere and lightness of touch.

So "Boy in a Pink Jersey" is a vacation painting of a small boy on vacation. Mr. Billcliffe says he is "probably ... one of the seven children of George Service, the Glasgow ship owner who became Cadell's main patron in the early 1920s."

Iona was where Cadell had met the Service family, and they doubtless shared pleasure in the relaxation of life on this lovely island, with its surprising stretches of sheep-mown grass, startling blue sea, sparkling white beaches, and ever-altering, brilliant light.

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