Elected ARSA: 19 March 1902 

Elected RSA: 2 September 1921 

Mr. James Cadenhead, born in Aberdeen in 1858, was the only son of Mr. George Cadenhead, Advocate, Procurator Fiscal for the County. From his earliest days Mr. Cadenhead shewed the keenest interest in drawing and painting, developing a remarkable faculty in many forms of artistic expression while still a boy.


Educated at Dollar Academy, and the University of his native city, he was admitted to the Trustees’ School of Art at the Mound in 1878, gaining the National Gold Medal for drawing, and later at the Academy Life School, he highly distinguished himself as a student. To gain further experience he went to Paris in 1882, where he joined the atelier of Carolus Duran, in which the late John Sargent, R.A., was the most distinguished student. Among his friends in Paris, and they were many, he was a universal favourite, his handsome presence, social qualities, and charming singing voice, made him welcome everywhere.


Returning to Scotland he settled in Edinburgh, marrying a daughter of the late John Wilson of Ban- taskine. Elected Associate in 1902, he attained Academician rank in 1921. Mr. Cadenhead was closely associated with Professor Patrick Geddes in connection with the Outlook Tower activities. He was an original member of the Society of Scottish Artists, a member of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Water Colours, an original member of the Society of Eight, and The New English Art Club.


Although Mr. Cadenhead occasionally painted portraits, he mainly devoted his attention to landscape, and achieved success in the most varied mediums. Among Mr, Cadenhead’s most important pictures are his Diploma Work in the Academy Collection, “ Falk- land,” distinguished in design and atmospheric quality, the “Gordi Stack’? and ‘“ Moorland,’ water colours, both the property of The Scottish Modern Arts Association, and the large and impressive “ Falkirk,” which attracted much attention in the Academy Exhibition of 1927; he is also represented in many public Galleries. Mr. Cadenhead etched a considerable number of plates, several of real importance, and it is unfortunate that his eclectic knowledge of the Art of the needle was not utilised for the benefit of students.


None of his etchings were published during his lifetime, but a limited edition of his best plates will shortly be issued by a well-known London firm. From first to last he found in the practice of his Art, unending exhilaration. Never content with past achievement, he pursued excellence with a single mind. His native land, especially the far-stretching distances of his beloved Deeside, held him in thrall, and he has left a goodly harvest of work in Oil and Water Colour, Etching, and Lithography, which will keep his memory green. Mr. Cadenhead’s sudden death on 22nd January 1927 deprived the Academy of one of its most valued members.

Transcribed from the 1927 RSA Annual Report