Photo credit: Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture
This is very reminiscent of one of the early still lifes by the Scottish Colourists, especially Fergusson or Peploe, and it should be investigated with that in mind. Its location in a Scottish collection is obviously suggestive. Compare with:
It certainly looks like a Fergusson - but given its owner which ought to know all about him, one should ask it directly why it has not been attributed to Fergusson , and also ask Roger Billcliffe who is working on a catalogue raisonne of Fergusson's paintings, who must know this painting well.
Roger is contactable through the website http://www.billcliffegallery.com
It is NOT a recent acquisition
The alternatives would be it is a copy, an imitation or even a fake
Peploe's grandson, Guy, will know the painting well too, and is the leading authority on Samuel. . He is in Edinburgh - but although Peploe's early 20th century still lives are in this mode, none of them is closer than the work under the discussion to known works by Fergusson
Judged by the slightly pedestrian drawing in the foreground objects, which to my eye would cast doubt on the painting being by Fergusson and Peploe, I think this is more likely to be a work by Edward Drummond Young (1876-1946) an Edinburgh artist who worked very much in this manner. He exhibited regularly at the RSA from 1908 until his death. He was also known as a portrait photographer.
Here are two still lifes by Drummond Young:
I agree the manner recalls that of Fergusson and Peploe, but both pictures are clearly inferior to the work of either, and I would not say that about the picture under consideration, certainly not to the same degree.
Here is a still life, at the University of Aberdeen, by (or given to) J.D. Fergusson which includes a cup and saucer similar to those in the RSA painting (although the cup's handle seems to be broken):
However, the rendering of the cups and saucers in the RSA painting is unassured, even crude, in comparison. Whoever painted it was struggling unsuccessfully with the perspectival representation of circular objects.
Peploe painted on a black background at one period - it is not by him. I have never seen a Fergusson looking like this. A good bet would be James Stuart Park, who painted extremely competent still lives like this, but once again I have not seen one on a black background. I ran Sotheby's sales in Scotland from 1972 -1984 and have seen a lot of Scottish works and own a Peploe.
My bet is on J S Park but you could also try William Sommerville Shanks.
Thanks, Peter. I agree that James Stuart Park is a good bet. The most accomplished aspect of the RSA canvas is the painting of the white flowers. Compare especially the following flower-piece, among a considerable number of such works by Park on Art UK with dark backgrounds:
Art UK records the artist as simply Stuart Park, although most if not all other reference to him include the name James -- but perhaps there is good reason for this omission.
(James ) Stuart Park was certainly competent, but from what I can find online, his flowers do not look like these, which are more Manet-like or more painterly. Somerville Shanks is a better fit, but I am not quite convinced.
Basically, if this were my picture or that of my institution, I would want a Fergusson expert like Billcliffe to assess it and rule on it.
Compare the little known signed by Edward Drummond Young in the Hunterian Art Gallery, Still life with lemon and glass of wine. This was attributed to Leslie Hunter, until the signature was read through the layer of dirt, when I was a curator at the Hunterian . Roger Billcliffe will know it well. Its provenance has not been established - but Roger may be able to comment on this too.It may never have been on public display.
Park was a more senior artist and undoubtedly influenced Fergusson, who would have known his work well . The rest of the painting is more like Young. Shanks' still lives may be a few years later than this - but he has not yet been much studied