Online exhibition for 150th anniversary of Scottish colourist, Samuel Peploe

A virtual exhibition to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Scottish colourist, Samuel Peploe, takes place this week.

Tuesday, 26th January 2021, 12:30 pm
Samuel Peploe - self portrait
Samuel Peploe - self portrait

It is being staged by Fife Cultural Trust which manages Kirkcaldy Galleries - home to the biggest Peploe collection outside of the National Galleries Scotland.

The exhibition launches on Wednesday and will feature many of his acclaimed paintings.

Front of house galleries staff have also been filmed talking about their favourite Peploe paintings in the collection, and the artist’s enduring appeal.

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Samuel Peploe - Bon More from Iona

People was noted for his still life works, and for being one of the group of four painters who became known as the Scottish Colourists.

Although his work has reached as much as £820,000 at auction, and his pictures adorn our national institutions, prints of his paintings brighten the walls of countless homes the length and breadth of the country.

And gallery staff hope the online exhibition featuring Peploe’s vibrant paintwork and luminous settings - from the Hebrides to the Cote d’Azur - brings some light into our lives during lockdown.

Organisers say the artist would have derived quiet satisfaction from this timely celebration of his work, as people long for brighter times.

Samuel Peploe - Flowers and Fruit with a Japanese Background (Pic: Fife Council)

Lesley Lettice, exhibition curator, said: “We are all living under tight travel restrictions and are probably walking the same few routes for our daily exercise, seeing the same views and landmarks and perhaps feeling a bit underwhelmed by the familiar.

“Peploe often painted the same landscape over and over again, from different angles, at different times of day. Those small changes in colour, light and composition never failed to delight him. His work can inspire us take pleasure in the little things and try to look at them with new eyes each day.”

Some 46 of the Edinburgh-born artist’s paintings rest with Kirkcaldy Art Gallery – thanks, principally, to the superb collection of Kirkcaldy linen manufacturer, J W Blyth, the maternal grandfather of journalist and broadcaster Michael Portillo.

Samuel Peploe - Plage scene

A significant part of the Blyth Collection was bought by Kirkcaldy Town Council in 1963.

For Mr Portillo, a visit to his grandfather’s art-filled home in Kirkcaldy was one of the great excitements of his childhood.

He recalled: “Art was John Blyth’s passion. Each of the Colourists gave my grandfather enormous pleasure. He would steal home from the factory to spend his lunch hour contemplating his most recent purchase.”

One man who has lived with the paintings all his life is the artist’s grandson, Guy Peploe, who is a director at The Scottish Gallery in Edinburgh.

Although he was born many years after Peploe’s death, Guy was acutely aware of his grandfather’s achievements growing up.

He said: “By all accounts, Peploe was a very private, shy family man so to have known him as a grandson would have been very special. This said, all artists have to have a steely core of self-belief, just to be able to face the studio every day.”

“Kirkcaldy has a wonderful holding of his work and my favourite is Palm Trees, Antibes. What better an image to contemplate in the current dark days of winter and restriction? It emanates heat, light –a different place and time, sure – but also the sense of possibility and beauty in prospect.”

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