Cadell studied in Paris and lived in Munich before settling in his native Edinburgh around 1909. Cadell's pre-war work is influenced by the Impressionists. From around 1920, his work became brighter and bolder. Shadows were suppressed to such an extent that the paintings of this period are comprised of areas of flat colour. Cadell made regular trips to France and Iona with fellow Scottish Colourist S. J. Peploe. Both artists were influenced by the effects of strong sunlight, which led them to use areas of bright colour in their paintings.