Unseen painting by famous Scottish artist discovered by accident


A PAINTING by a Scottish artist who died almost 80 years ago has been unearthed on the reverse of a painting being prepared for exhibition.


Francis Cadell, the Scottish colourist painter, renowned for his elegant depictions of the Edinburgh, and Iona died in 1937 and the newly discovered painting of George Street in Edinburgh has emerged on the back of a painting by fellow Edinburgh painter, Denis Peploe.


The painting was found on the reverse of a Denis Peploe painting which was being prepared for exhibition at The Scottish Gallery in Dundas Street next month.


Cadell's newly discovered painting 'George Square and Charlotte Square from my Studio' 1909 oil on canvas
Cadell’s newly discovered painting ‘George Square and Charlotte Square from my Studio’ 1909 oil on canvas


It is thought that Peploe, who died in 1993 at 79 years-old, was gifted the painting by Cadell’s sister, Jean Percival Clark- well-known as the actress Jean Cadell.


Jean knew the Peploe family well and after the death of Cadell in December 1937 she gave Denis Peploe, at this time a post-Dip student at Edinburgh College of Art, some of Cadell’s materials including paint, brushes and canvases.


Why Cadell abandoned the painting, which is finished and bears a strong signature is not known however it is clear that Peploe must have taken the painting off its stretcher, turned it and re-stretched so it could be used again.


The Cadell was painted from the artist’s studio at 112 George Street and looks across the street towards the opposite side of George Street and across to Charlotte Square, including the central pediment above what is now Bute House.


He has included a woman crossing the street and the charming detail of another female figure leaning from a ground floor window. At this date, around 1909, the townhouse before the corner was still complete but the shop front at the corner and the bay window at first floor level were already as they are today.


Guy Peploe, Director of The Scottish Gallery and son of Denis Peploe, says “It is a remarkable painting, not just for its unusual history but as a rare, ambitious townscape.


“He would paint again from his studio window when he was in Regent Terrace around 1932, looking across to Arthur Seat but otherwise our picture is unique.


Its date, a year or so before his trip to Venice, allies it to a number of freely painted interiors of his studio often including the chandelier and mantle piece and the female figure.


The palette is relatively restrained, again typical of this time, but he uses strong chromatic notes and brilliant devices like the reflected afternoon light on the windows of the buildings opposite.”


The Denis Peploe is perfectly preserved on the verso, and is a typical vigorous, colourful still life created with the palette knife which could one day be represented as the A-side.


The painting will be on sale in excess of £50,000