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Samuel John Peploe - Roses

Samuel John Peploe


Oil on canvas: 24(h) x 20(w) in / 61(h) x 50.8(w) cm
Signed lower right: Peploe

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BM 120



1871 - Edinburgh - 1935




Signed lower right: Peploe

Oil on canvas: 24 x 20 in / 61 x 50.8 cm

Frame size: 28 x 32 in / 71.1 x 81.3 cm

In a Louis XIV style carved and gilded frame


Painted circa 1930



Aitken Dott & Son, Edinburgh

John J. Cowen Esq., Edinburgh

Richard Green, London, 1984

Private collection, Europe



Edinburgh, The Royal Scottish Academy, Annual Exhibition, 26th April-30th August 1930, no.296

London, Richard Green, Modern British Paintings, 1985, no.17

London, Richard Green, Pre-War Scotland: From the Glasgow Boys to the Scottish Colourists, May 2015, no.14



“There is so much in mere objects, flowers, leaves, jugs, what not – colours, forms, relation – I can never see mystery coming to an end”, Peploe wrote in 1929.[1] Early in 1930 Peploe revisited Cassis with his wife and stayed until the start of June, before returning to his  Edinburgh studio and his enduring passion for still life subject matter. Though composed around a single, central vase of roses, with only a white plate behind, the vivid palette and abstract backdrop of this dramatic work make it one of the artist’s most remarkable. The blue and white china sits on a square, grey table whose corner projects to the right of the composition, setting up a sequence of dynamic diagonals across the canvas in striking contrast to the upright flowers. The geometric shapes of brilliant green, black and lilac fabric, swiftly outlined in bold black or broken blue lines, are stacked against areas of white and pale blue above the table and in vertical panels at the top of the canvas, recalling the bright porcelain and luminous white flowers. The striped mauve and green material cropped by the top of the picture, corresponding with the vibrant leaves, was a studio prop Peploe shared with Cadell, whose Edinburgh studio was within walking distance.[2] Perhaps the most arresting elements of this accomplished composition however, are the stunning coral roses, their tight, angular petals only just unfurling and the unexpected dash of mustard yellow on the left.


As well as exhibiting the present work at the Royal Scottish Academy in 1930,[3] Peploe held one-man shows at Aitken Dott & Son, Edinburgh and Alex Reid & Lefevre in London. In spring the following year he would take part in another exhibition of Les Peintres Ecossais at the Galeries Georges Petit, Paris, this time including the work of Telfer Bear and R. O. Dunlop in addition to Fergusson, Cadell and Hunter.






SJ Peploe, Still life with Roses and Mirror

Oil on canvas: 49.5 x 39.4 cm

Culzean Castle, National Trust for Scotland










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] Stanley Cursiter, Peploe An Intimate Memoir of an Artist and his Work, Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd., London, 1947, p. 73.

[2] Honeyman described Peploe and Cadell’s friendship as ‘a rare thing. In appearance, manner and talk they were poles apart, but in their love of colour, sunshine and freedom of action they were on common ground.’ T.J. Honeyman, Three Scottish Colourists, London, 1950, p. 66. Honeyman continues: ‘Cadell’s studio was about the only one S.J. ever visited. They often criticised each other’s work, suggesting an improvement here and there, counselling eliminations of some passage or advising a fresh attempt.’ Ibid., p. 66.

[3] Roses was one of three works Peploe exhibited at the RSA including, Garden – Antibes, no. 198 and Still life, no. 319. Peploe also exhibited a painting entitled Roses at the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts in 1930, no.266 (£75), along with a landscape of Iona, no. 259 and Still life, no. 268.

Other Works By
Samuel John Peploe:

Samuel John Peploe - Paris Plage Samuel John Peploe - Still life of pink & red roses in a Chinese vase