A PAINTING by Scottish colourist Samuel Peploe, which was once purchased for just £500, has sold for more than £660,000 at auction.
Still Life With Roses In A Blue And White Vase had been expected to fetch up to £500,000 but went for the higher sum of £662,500 during Christie’s Modern British and Irish Art sale in London.
It was painted in the first half of the 1920s, at the height of Peploe’s career, and has resurfaced after remaining with the same family for almost 50 years.
The painting was bought for £500 in 1965 by an eagle-eyed Scottish collector, Major Herbert Dunsmuir, whose father founded the Dunsmuir and Jackson engineering business which ran the Govan Engine Works on the Clyde, and has stayed with the Dunsmuir family ever since.
Andre Zlattinger, head of Modern British and Irish art at Christie’s, said yesterday: “Peploe is one of the major artists of the 20th century and recognised internationally.
“This Peploe is typical of his finest works of this period. This painting was an intellectual exercise for Peploe, combining the analytical and scientific process of pictorial composition.”
Mr Zlattinger said Major Dunsmuir, born in Glasgow in the 1890s, was “an astute collector” with a good eye.
He said that, like other Scottish collectors of his day, he benefited from the knowledge of the outstanding Glaswegian dealers of the era such as Ian MacNicol and Alexander Reid – who once shared a flat with, and was famously painted by, Van Gogh, whom he was said to resemble so closely they could pass for twins.
Educated at Glenalmond, Major Dunsmuir served with the Highland Light Infantry during the First World War.
Mr Zlattinger said: “Thereafter, he moved to Ayrshire and, following the sale of the engineering business, his lifetime of collecting began.”
His taste encompassed the Glasgow Boys, the Barbizon school, the Impressionists, and the Scottish Colourists, as well as English painters such as Sir Alfred Munnings.
Peploe was one of a group of four painters, the others being John Duncan Fergusson, Francis Cadell and Leslie Hunter, who became known as the Scottish Colourists.
Born in Manor Place, Edinburgh, in 1871, Samuel John Peploe became interested in art when aged 20.
He went to Paris and studied at the Academies Julian and Colarossi and developed a fascination for the still life work of masters such as Frans Hals. His earlier work was influenced by Edouard Manet, but it was after returning from France to a new studio in Edinburgh in 1900 that Peploe began the series of famous still life images.
His most productive period came after 1910, when he worked harder than ever following his marriage to Margaret McKay, whom he met in Barra in 1894.
Peploe, who died in 1935, exhibited regularly with the Royal Scottish Academy and had his first one-man show at the Scottish Gallery in 1903.