Focus: Scottish Paintings

S.J. Peploe's Still Life with Roses and Oranges

Much of the success of 'Still Life with Roses and Oranges' comes from the drama in the colour scheme with the vivid hot orange of the fruit being the single warm tone in an otherwise entirely cool palette. The overall effect is a still life that is at once peaceful and vivacious. A very similar composition, 'Still Life with Roses', featuring the same objects, fabrics, fruit and flowers is held in Aberdeen Art Gallery but the oranges are far less dominant in the Aberdeen painting and the overall colouring is not as light or bright, creating a very different mood.

The combination of white, blue and orange here is especially reminiscent of Cézanne's still life paintings. However, whereas Cézanne's fruit tends to spill over a valley of folded cloth, Peploe's 1920s still lifes are structurally tight with strong lines running through the composition creating a crisp edge; very much in keeping with the Art Deco taste of the period.



Cadell and Peploe often shared the props that featured in their still life paintings and the violet and green fabric, acting here as a tablecloth, is found draped on the back of a red chair in Cadell's painting The Vase of Water (circa 1923, Private Collection). Peploe's dedication to still life and his pursuit of every possibility offered by the subject, resulted in many of the most enduring still life compositions of the 20th century, earning him the accolade of the "greatest still life painter in British history" (Jackie Wullschlager, 2012).


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