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Samuel John Peploe - Paris Plage

Samuel John Peploe

Paris Plage

Oil on panel: 9.4(h) x 7.2(w) in / 23.8(h) x 18.4(w) cm
Signed lower right: Peploe

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BL 61



1871 - Edinburgh - 1935


Paris Plage


Signed lower right: Peploe

Oil on panel: 9 ⅜ x 7 ¼ in / 23.8 x 18.4 cm

Frame size: 13 ⅞ x 12 ⅛ in / 35.2 x 30.8 cm

In an antique Louis XIII carved and gilded frame


Painted circa 1907-1910



The Lefevre Gallery, London

A Sharp, Glasgow

Ewan Mundy Fine Art, Glasgow

Private collection, UK



Described as a ‘Franco-Scottish Painter’,[1] Peploe had a lasting love of France. He studied in Paris, stayed for extended working holidays and lived in the capital for two years, during which he observed and completely engaged with modern French painting from Manet to Matisse. Peploe met John Duncan Fergusson (1874-1961) around 1900 and from 1904 to 1910 they spent their summers painting together on the northern coast of France. Staying at Etaples, the artists visited Paris Plage (now known as Le Touquet) on the Cote d’Opale, a popular seaside resort and artists’ colony, previously frequented by Eugène Boudin (1824-1898).


A remarkable study in red, white and blue against the grey ground of the built environment, Peploe describes the bright, fresh vitality of the bracing sunlit street with swift assurance. Strokes of vivid red on the far right define the cropped edge of a building, while another in the foreground conveys the rustle of a dress, its saturated hue leading the eye, via the fluttering Tricolor, into the distance in an accomplished display of compositional structure and perspectival recession. Bustling with active figures deftly defined with richly impasted dashes of paint, this intimate, intuitive townscape fluently articulates the energy and immediacy of plein air painting.


In his biography on the artist, Stanley Cursiter wrote of this period in Peploe’s career: ‘In the years immediately before 1910 Peploe had spent some time each summer sketching in France, at Étaples and Paris-Plage with his friend J.D. Fergusson. He painted a number of small panels with subjects supplied by the beaches: groups of figures, bathing tents, striped umbrellas, and the sea with green waves dancing over the pale sand. These pictures grew naturally out of the light schemes of colour on which he had been concentrating… The colour is not the foundation of his schemes, but incidental and added to a structure which exists in tone. In the small panels painted at Paris-Plage and Étaples colour is used more in the manner of the Impressionists; the picture exists in colour; the colour is no longer something added to a scheme of tonal relations, but the tonal relations are the outcome of the colours selected.’[2]


It is thought that Peploe and Fergusson met at a studio club run by Joseph Simpson in Edinburgh around 1900, both having studied in Edinburgh and Paris.[3] Fergusson would later describe their relationship as: ‘A happy unbroken friendship between two painters who both believed that painting was not just a craft or profession, but a sustained attempt at finding a means of expressing reactions to life in the form demanded by each new experience’.[4]




SJ Peploe, Paris Plage                                           SJ Peploe, A Paris Street, c. 1907                          

Oil on board: 21.5 x 26.6 cm                               Oil on panel: 19 x 24 cm

The Fleming-Wyfold Art Foundation, London     Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow                  



1871 - Edinburgh - 1935


Samuel John Peploe was the eldest of the Scottish Colourists and worked in a style remarkable for its painterly freedom and richness of colour. Together with Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell, George Leslie Hunter and John Duncan Fergusson, whose work was also characterised by the bold handling and use of colour, they were dubbed ‘Les Peintres de L’Ecosse Moderne’ following their first exhibition in Paris in 1924.


Peploe first studied at the Edinburgh College of Art in 1893, and then continued his training in Paris, at both the Académie Julian under Adolphe William Bouguereau (1825-1905), and the Académie Colarossi. At this time he was considerably impressed by the work of Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796-1875), Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin (1699-1779), Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) and Paul Cézanne (1839-1906). He also admired Diego Velázquez (1599-1660), and seventeenth-century Dutch painters, especially Frans Hals (c1582-1666), whose work he saw on a visit to the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, in 1895. During this period, Peploe led a cosmopolitan life, working in Britain, and travelling extensively throughout France, in the company of his friend and colleague, Fergusson, with whom he spent several holidays painting at Etaples, Paris Plage, Dunkirk, Berneval, Dieppe and Le Tréport. In 1896, Peploe returned to Edinburgh and settled at his first studio in Shandwick Place, where the dark surroundings suited the sombre palette of his early still lifes, nudes and figure studies. He moved to Devon Place in 1900, where he developed a more sophisticated choice of subject matter, matched by an increasingly rich application of paint, and to York Place in 1905, where lighter space was reflected in the heightened tonality of his work.


He married Margaret MacKay in 1910, and decided to move to Paris where he remained until 1912, when he returned permanently to Edinburgh and set up a studio in Queen Street. He painted in Arran in 1913, in Crawford and Kikcudbright in 1914, and frequently spent the summer painting in Iona, with Cadell, between 1920- 1933. Peploe exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy, where he was elected a member in 1927, at the Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts, and in London at the Allied Artists’ Association.


The work of Samuel John Peploe is represented in Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums, University of Aberdeen; University of St Andrews; Rozelle House Galleries, South Ayrshire; Birmingham Museums Trust; Cartwright Hall Art Gallery, Bradford; Brighton and Hove Museums and Art Galleries; the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; Pallant House Gallery, Chichester; Gracefield Arts Centre, The Stewarty Museum, Dumfries and Galloway; Lillie Art Gallery, East Dunbartonshire; Dundee Art Galleries and Museums, University of Dundee; National Museum Scotland, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture, Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh Council, University of Edinburgh; Kirkcaldy Galleries, Fife; the Burrell Collection, Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, Glasgow Museums Resource Centre; Ferens Art Gallery, Hull, University of Hull; McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Inverclyde; Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Lakeland Arts Trust, Kendal; Leeds Museums and Galleries; The Courtauld Gallery, the Fleming Collection, Tate Britain and William Morris Gallery, London; Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA); Manchester City Galleries; National Trust for Scotland; Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle; Paisley Museum and Art Galleries, Renfrewshire; Perth & Kinross Council; The Atkinson, Southport; The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent and Ulster Museum, National Museums Northern Ireland.



[1] Observer, 20th October 1935, cited in Guy Peploe, S.J. Peploe 1871-1935, Mainstream Publishing, Edinburgh, 2000, p.85.

[2] Stanley Cursiter, Peploe, An Intimate Memoir of an Artist and his Work, Thomas Nelson and Sons, London, 1947 pp. 19-20.

[3] Alice Strang, S.J. Peploe, exh cat, National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, 2012, p. 11.

[4] Fergusson, 1962, cited in Alice Strang, 2012, ibid., p. 11.