The early 1920s were a financially rewarding and secure period for the artist. He had been elected an associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1918 and what followed was a succession of highly successful exhibitions at the Scottish Gallery and that of Alexander Reid where he established many of his most important patrons. Peploe painted a series of highly coloured still lifes in these years, a period from which Pink Roses dates, and the picture bears all the hallmarks of Peploe’s finest still lifes: a closely cropped composition and flattened picture space; the recurrent motif of the blue and white Chinese vase; roses; arrangements of citrus fruits, the Chinese fan and brightly coloured background.
What he achieves is a complex composition, harmonising the contrasting objects – the solid spheres of pure colour of the oranges and lemon; the delicacy of the pink roses. To the lower right, the angular form of a closed fan with black ribbons is jumbled within folded drapery, fixed in the foreground by the dark polished wood of the table upon which they sit. Behind, is the vibrant pink background. To break up the space, the background is not solid colour, but subtly modulated in tone, echoing the hues of the roses themselves. Each Peploe composition is delight; as Guy Peploe observed, in each still life ‘…many of the same devices, or rather concerns, are apparent, but crucially no formula can be identified; like snowflakes, each has its own compelling, original logic.’ (Guy Peploe, S. J. Peploe, Lund Humphries in association with the Scottish Gallery, 2000, p.126)
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