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Colourist painting leads Bonhams Scottish sale in Edinburgh

An important still life by the Scottish Colourist, Samuel Peploe, leads Bonhams Annual Scottish Pictures Sale on August 20th in Edinburgh.

Still Life of Mixed Roses in Chinese Vase(£200,000-300,000) was painted at a pivotal moment in Peploe’s artistic career. In the early 1900s Peploe and his fellow Colourist, George Hunter, explored still life painting, a genre for which there was no established tradition in British art. These early, pre First World War, still life paintings were on a small scale and featured everyday objects against a dark background, much influenced by Manet and the Dutch masters. After his return from Paris in 1912, the relatively conservative Peploe became more experimental, employing more vibrant colour and dramatic form.

He became obsessed with painting the perfect still life, painstakingly setting up compositions featuring flowers and favourite motifs such as the Chinese vase, fan, crockery and drapery evident in this picture. Many of the works from the classic period are variations on a theme, as the artist explored the relationships and contrasts between form and space, colour and tone, nature and design.

Head of Pictures at Bonhams Edinburgh, Chris Brickley said, “This transitional work, executed around 1920, has an arresting red ground and employs the typical cropped forms, flattened picture space and motifs which are hallmarks of his most characteristic pictures. Peploe’s palette would become chalky and the colour more restrained after 1920 making this painting a fascinating and beautiful example of a key moment in his artistic development.”
The painting was at one time in the collection of the Scottish artist Sir William MacTaggart who, like Peploe, was a member of the Society of Eight ? a private painters group restricted to eight elected members – in Edinburgh in the late 1920s.