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Samuel John Peploe - Still life with pink roses and an open book

Samuel John Peploe

Still life with pink roses and an open book

Oil on canvas: 22(h) x 20(w) in / 55.9(h) x 50.8(w) cm
Signed lower right: Peploe

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1871 - Edinburgh - 1935

Ref: BZ 217


Still life with pink roses and an open book


Signed lower right: Peploe

Oil on canvas: 22 x 20 in / 55.9 x 50.8 cm

Frame size: 32 x 30 in / 81.3 x 76.2 cm


Painted circa 1929-30




Alex Reid & Lefevre, Glasgow, acquired directly from the artist in 1930, as Roses [697/30]

Private collection, Europe, acquired from the above 23rd May 1931

Christie’s South Kensington, 26th June 2015, lot 205

Richard Green, London, 2015

Private collection, UK



“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.


This stylish late work displays a refined, almost monochrome palette in harmony with the pale grey vase and open book, enlivened by deep pink roses, emerald green leaves and the vigorous application of paint. For friend and fellow artist, Stanley Cursiter, Peploe’s work of the 1930s reveals, ‘a still greater richness and fullness due in great measure to an increased acceptance of the muted harmonies of quieter and more broken colour. There was no longer the slightest suggestion that the colour was being searched for and accentuated for its own sake, but rather that the whole picture surface was a web of some rich material in which notes of colour emerge and forms take shape.’[2]




S.J. Peploe, A still life of Roses, c. 1931                 S.J. Peploe, Still life, Red Roses, c. 1931

Oil on canvas: 45.7 x 40.6 cm                             Oil on canvas: 55.9 x 50.8 cm

Perth & Kinross Council                                     Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, 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.


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 of his work, Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd., London, 1947, p.73.

[2] Stanley Cursiter, ibid., p.76.


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