Lot 34
  • 34

Samuel John Peploe, R.S.A.

350,000 - 450,000 GBP
485,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Samuel John Peploe, R.S.A.
  • Pink Roses
  • signed l.r.: S J Peploe
  • oil on canvas
  • 54.5 by 44.5 cm., 21½ by 17½ in.


Doyles, New York; 17 November 1993, lot 100;
Richard Green, London where purchased by the aunt of the present owner

Catalogue Note

In his still life paintings, Samuel John Peploe is probably associated with roses more than any other flower. It was a subject he returned to repeatedly. The determination to paint the perfect still life was a life-long obsession for the artist, stretching back to his earliest works (see lot 31) right up to his final years.  He started to focus on roses after the First World War, and over the next few years he returned to them time and again. He synthesized the approaches of Cezanne with the Fauves’ ultra-real colours, experimenting with techniques, until by around 1919, his mature style was fully formed. Gone were the black outlines and clashing experimental colours of his earlier work, to be replaced by complex and challenging studies of shape and pure colour.

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)