Southall was one of the most important of the Birmingham Group, the circle of Birmingham artists who came to maturity in the 1880s. Their strong corporate identity was defined by their close association with the Birmingham School of Art, their commitment to the Arts and Crafts, their influence from the Pre-Raphaelites and Burne-Jones, and their preference for tempera as a painting medium. Working so meticulously in tempera, Southall produced a comparatively small number of pictures.
This picture was included in an exhibition arranged by the Society of Painters in Tempera, held at the Carfax Gallery in 1905. Following the success of the first Tempera Exhibition held at Leighton House in 1901 the Society had been set up for 'the improvement in the art of Tempera painting by the interchange of the knowledge and experience of its members' (A. Vallance, The Studio, vol. 35, no. 147, 15 June 1905, p. 289). Other Society members included Arthur Gaskin, Spencer Stanhope, Walter Crane, Garstin Harvey and Bernard Sleigh. In his review of the exhibition Aymer Vallance wrote that 'in the work of the Birmingham school of artists, e.g., of Messrs. Southall and Gaskin...there is evident a Pre-Raphaelite richness of beautiful detail in the draperies and other subordinate accessories' (A. Vallance, op. cit., p. 294). These words seem to describe The Rose Bowl, with its strong blues and pinks and the exquisite detailing of the fabrics and the eponymous bowl of fragrant roses.