Peploe’s rose pieces from this period are sublime images and for many the most enduring and successful of all his oeuvre. They are a subtle progression from the more stylised tulips and roses of the previous years towards naturalism, but with no sacrifice of colour. In this example a single pink rose stem is placed in a glass vase, while another white bloom lies on the table. The brilliant colour of an orange is repeated, refracted through the glass. A strong corner of the table on which the still life is posed gives the composition focus, as the picture on the wall behind reinforces a reading of real space. Peploe uses a rich impasto to describe the crumpled tablecloth and hanging drape behind, and the brilliant whites carry the stronger colour notes which can radiate across a room. A pear is included: a piece of fruit which demands to be modelled rather than the disc of the apple or orange. It initiates a more considered, tonal future which will see him paint pewter, a loaf of bread, or a pair of chops on a piece of butcher’s paper over the next years. In a happy twist of fate, a Bourlet & Co. French finished cover ground frame with a lively pattern came to us recently. From a label on the back we know it had (at some point) a Denis Peploe West Highland landscape in it, but it was without doubt a frame which had come to the artist from the studio of his own father, S. J. Peploe, and was typical of the frames made for the rose paintings of the twenties. At the same time we had acquired Pink Roses in a Glass Vase framed in a barely adequate Czech frame from the fifties. The reunion of frame and picture lends a rightness to the whole, which is hugely satisfying
Born in 1871, he is the senior of the four artists now known as The Scottish Colourists. S.J. Peploe had his first exhibition at The Scottish Gallery in 1903 and a life long association with us until his untimely death in 1935. He lived in Paris from 1910 until 1912, where his work changed radically from paintings reminiscent of Manet and Sargent to brilliant Fauvist works which placed him in the vanguard of British Modernism. By the time of his early death aged sixty-four in 1935, he was recognised as a great painter but only by a small coterie of collectors and curators, like Ion Harrison and Stanley Cursiter and it has taken a further fifty years for his national and international significance to be fully appreciated.
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Guy Peploe is the world’s leading authority on the work of S.J. Peploe.