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Classic Colourist still life offered at Bonhams Scottish Art sale in Edinburgh
George Henry RA RSA RSW (British, 1858-1943), The Hour-Glass. Photo: Bonhams.

EDINBURGH.- Still life with Roses in a Chinese Vase, by the Scottish Colourist Samuel Peploe, is one of the leading works in Bonhams Scottish Art sale in Edinburgh on Wednesday 11 October. It is estimated at £300,000-500,000.

The painting, which has been in the same family since the 1920s and is completely fresh to the market, has a fascinating provenance. It first belonged to Muriel Cleland whose father, Sir Charles Cleland, was a prominent civic figure in Glasgow, and whose mother, Janet, was a sister of Sir William Burrell, the shipping magnate and founder of the world famous Burrell Collection. Family tradition suggests that it was Sir William who persuaded his niece to buy the painting.

Painted in the early 1920s, the work is a characteristic Peploe ‘rose’ oil and features many of the artist’s favoured motifs - Chinese vase, fruit, fan and roses.

Strongly influenced by the years he spent studying and working in Paris before World War I, Peploe became bolder and more experimental on his return to Scotland. In a decisive break with the cool restraint of the Dutch masters who had informed his earlier work, he embraced colour and dramatic form.

Obsessed with painting the perfect still life, Peploe painstakingly set up compositions featuring the same elements in different combinations as he explored the relationships and contrasts between form and space, colour and tone, naturalism and design.

Head of Pictures at Bonhams Edinburgh, Chris Brickley said, “Still life with Roses in a Chinese Vase has everything collectors look for in a Peploe painting: strong colours, bold composition – the use of black is particularly striking in this work - and a masterly command of material. Peploe once wrote “There is so much in mere objects, flowers, leaves, jugs, what not – colours, form, relation – and I can never see mystery coming to an end.” That restless intelligence pervades this archetypal, and very beautiful, still life.”

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