Samuel John Peploe

(1871 - 1935)

Samuel John Peploe was born in Edinburgh on 27th January 1871. He can justly be described as one of Scotland’s greatest modern artists. He imbued and developed, in his own fashion, the most radical and avant garde styles of painting then current, from his earliest works c.1894 indebted to an understanding of the Barbizon School to cubism in his landscapes and still lifes c.1912.

Peploe was born to a well-to-do family; however, both parents had died before he was twelve. He studied art at the Trustees School, the Royal Scottish Academy, and in Paris, in 1894 at the Académie Julian under the renowned classical painter William Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) and at the Atelier Colarosse. He exhibited at the RSA from 1901 being elected ARSA in 1918 and RSA in 1927, he also exhibited at the Society of Scottish Artists and in galleries in London, Paris and New York, his first one man show being at the Edinburgh Gallery of Aitken Dott in 1903. Peploe was a founder member in 1911 of the National Portrait Society.

Peploe was a landscape, portrait and still life painter, and although perhaps best known for the latter, shows himself as a very Scottish artist in his landscapes of the Isles, he painted in the Hebrides from 1891 and later in life visited Iona every summer. Between 1910, when he married, and 1913, Peploe lived in Paris. From the early influence of French social realism and the Glasgow School, the debt to Velasquez and Hals, seen in his use of paint and composition, through his friendship with John Duncan Fergusson, RBA (1874-1961) and their sketching trips to Brittany, Peploe when in Paris adopted a form of cubism. Draughtsmanship, as befits his traditional training, was significant in Peploe’s work, he adopted the formalised structure of cubism, but in a form akin to Paul Cézanne (1839-1906).

Peploe’s compositions, landscapes and still lifes, were dependent on line and colour. His work was reliant on his close observation of nature, colour, and the relationship of elements within his compositions, particularly evident in his still lifes, which he commenced painting c.1895. Peploe, J. D. Fergusson and Frances Campbell Boileau Cadell (1883-1937) are known as the Scottish Colourists, artists closest of all their British contemporaries to French painting and post-impressionism.

His works can be found in museums in: Aberdeen; Dundee; Edinburgh, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art; Glasgow, The Burrell Collection; Hull; Manchester and Perth.