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SAMUEL JOHN PEPLOE, R.S.A. (1871-1935)
Samuel John Peploe was born on the 27th January 1871. His father, Robert Luff Peploe, was the general manager of the Commercial Bank of Scotland. Little is known of his mother as she died when he was three years old. On the death of his father, when S.J. Peploe was only twelve years old, he was left alone with his two brothers and a younger sister.
His formal training as an artist began at the Edinburgh College of Art in 1893, and continued in Paris in 1894 at both the Academie Julien, under William Bouguereau, and the Academie Colarossi. The French influence was very strong in Peploe's early style, especially the work of Chardin, Courbet, Cézanne and Manet, and his work at this time also shows the influence of artists from the Spanish School, notably Picasso and Velasquez. It was on a visit to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam in 1895, that he saw the work of Frans Hals, and prior to 1900 his work shows a tendency towards the style of Hals and other Dutch masters.
Although he was painting in Britain in 1894, his cosmopolitan life and artistic influences were to continue, as he travelled extensively throughout France with his lifelong friend and fellow artist, John Duncan Fergusson, spending many holidays painting at Etaples, Paris-Plage, Dieppe and Le Tréport.
Around 1896, he returned to Edinburgh and based himself in his first studio in Shandwick Place, moving to 6 Devon Place in 1900, and 32 York Place in 1905. Although he first exhibited at the Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts in 1896, at the Royal Scottish Academy in 1901 and had two one-man shows at Aitken Dott in 1903 and 1909, he achieved better recognition in London, where he exhibited successfully at the Allied Artists Association in the Albert Hall in 1908 and 1909.
On his marriage to Margaret McKay in 1910, he decided to return to Paris, a move which was encouraged by J.D. Fergusson, and took up residence at 278 Boulevard Raspail, Luxembourg Gardens. In the summer of 1910, his first son was born at Royan. However, in the spring of 1911 while at Isle de Brehat he was forced to return to Edinburgh to raise some money, selling twenty-two canvases to George Proudfoot for £50, with which he returned briefly to France.
Although the French influence was to remain strong, in the summer of 1912 Peploe finally returned to Edinburgh, where he set up a studio at 34 Queen Street. In 1913 he painted in Arran and in Crawford and in 1915 at Kirkcudbright where he and his family stayed with Jessie Marion King and Ernest Archibald Taylor. Between 1920 and 1933, he spent almost every summer in Iona, often with F.C.B. Cadell. He was elected an Academician of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1927, and in 1928 he held a successful exhibition at the Kraushaar Gallery, New York.
Peploe was highly self-critical and something of a perfectionist; many of his works have sketches on the reverse with which he was clearly dissatisfied. He never ceased rethinking the ideal way to represent a still life or landscape, and this development in style and technique enables much of his work to be relatively accurately dated. In 1929 Peploe wrote 'There is so much in mere objects, flowers, leaves, jugs, what not - colours, forms, relation - I can never see the mystery coming to an end'.
The last few years of his life were shadowed by illness, although he still exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy and at the Royal Glasgow Institute, and in March 1934 his London exhibition was held by Reid and Lefevre, a year before his death in October 1935.