Samuel John Peploe, RSA (1871-1935)

Born in Edinburgh in 1871 and educated at the Collegiate School in Charlotte Square, Samuel John Peploe had good academic ability but no interest in the professions, preferring to walk, sail or sketch.

By 1893 he was enrolled for classes in The Trustees' Academy, the forerunner of Edinburgh College of Art, and the following year was in Paris at the Academie Julian under the neo-classicist William Bouguereau, and later at the Academie Colarossi. Long study nurtured his natural ability and helped him perfect an early style based on the Dutch masters.

From 1901, Peploe began a lifelong habit of taking painting trips to northern France and to the Hebrides, with J D Fergusson. He exhibited regularly at the Royal Scottish Academy, and the Royal Glasgow Institute from 1900 and had his first one-man show at the Scottish Gallery in 1903.

By 1906 his earlier still life and figure paintings, characterised by dark backgrounds, gave way to paler colours, greys and pinks. This was in part due to a move to a new, lighter studio in York Place. His second exhibition in 1909 was successful but his eyes were turning to Paris and the next year he moved and married Margaret MacKay whom he had met on a painting trip to Barra in 1894. France liberated his palette as evidenced by Fauvist panels painted in Royan (1910), Cassis (1911, 1913) and in Paris. His stuido paintings show the influence of Van Gogh and de Segonzac.

The Peploes came back to Edinburgh in 1912 with dozens of paintings much too advanced for Edinburgh. Rejected by his old dealer, Peploe put on his own show a the New Gallery in Shandwick Place, where the Society of Eight had their inaugural exhibition in the same year. For the next fifteen years Peploe retained a brilliant palette, evolving a mature style containing elements of Cezanne, the Jazz Age and Matisse. By the late 1920's he had reverted to a more sonorous, tonal painting, still enlivened by brilliant colour chords, but weightier and cooler.

In 1933 he taught two terms at the College of Art in Edinburgh, making a considerable impact. Best known for his still lifes of tulips, Peploe had a wide range of subjects including figure painting and particularly landscape.

(Text by Guy Peploe from 'The Dictionary of Scottish Painters: 1600 to the present day')