One of the four Scottish Colourists, Samuel John Peploe began his formal training at the Edinburgh College of Art in 1893, and continued in Paris at the Academie Julian and Academie Colarossi in 1894. He was strongly influenced by French painters, including Chardin, Courbet and Cézanne. This influence remained strong throughout his life, and he continued to make regular visits to France with fellow artist John Duncan Fergusson. Along with Fergusson, George Leslie Hunter and Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell, Peploe became known as one of the Scottish Colourists.
In 1896 Peploe returned to Edinburgh and his first studio was at Shandwick Place. In 1900 he moved to 6 Devon Place, and moved again in 1905 to Sir Henry Raeburn's former studio at 32 York Place. The pictures painted at York Place, such as Interior with seated girl, circa 1908 (private collection), mark a change for Peploe towards a very light palette and are sometimes referred to as his 'White Period'. Girl on a Sofa was most likely painted when Peploe was still working at Devon Place, as the palette for this work is darker and richer than the later works.
Peploe's body of work is made up mainly of landscape views, (particularly of Iona and Cassis), still lifes and interiors, often with seated figures. Girl on a Sofa is an example of the latter and this work is a particularly rare example of a work on paper by Peploe.