Green Sea, Iona

Samuel John Peploe


Cadell had been painting in Iona since before the First World War, and finally persuaded Peploe to join him there in 1920. But while Cadell's reaction was increasingly to use reds, blues and greens, applied in areas of brilliant, sometimes pure colour, Peploe's palette returned to the cool tones he had used in the South of France. 

Peploe's paintings of Iona were a commercial success, and he returned there nearly every year until his death. The island, with its white sands and the intensity of the colour of the waters of the Sound of Iona darkening to the deep blue of the Atlantic, provided endless inspiration for his pictures. In his last years he started to use simpler compositions and a palette dominated by tonal values and muted harmonies. 

  • Artist

    Samuel John Peploe

  • Date


  • Medium

    Oil on canvas

  • Object number


  • Dimensions unframed

    50.8 × 61 cm

  • Dimensions framed

    71 × 82 cm

  • Place depicted

    Iona (8316744)

  • Marks

    Signed bottom right

  • Subject



Samuel John Peploe RA, 1871-1935

Born in Edinburgh, the son of a banker, the young Samuel Peploe resisted a career in the law to spend four years attending art schools divided between the Royal Scottish Academy and the Académie Julian in Paris. Settling in Edinburgh in the early 1900s, Peploe established his reputation as a painter of still lives and innovative portraits influenced by the breakthrough early moderns, Édouard Manet and James McNeill Whistler.

Meanwhile his love of France and friendship with J.D. Fergusson led to annual visits across the Channel. Peploe wrote admiringly of the French: ‘They always remind me of the Gaelic- so frank and open…They so enjoy life largely in an animal way.’ He spoke from experience as his long-term girlfriend and future wife, Margaret Mackay, was Gaelic, hailing from the Isle of Barra.

The revolutionary Fauve painters who took Europe by storm in 1905 unlocked the reserved Scot’s wild side. Peploe’s move to Paris with his family in 1910 inspired a series radical ‘colourist’ paintings, which were deemed too difficult by his Edinburgh dealer, who promptly dropped him.

Unfit for military service, Peploe’s wartime paintings reveal the influence of Cézanne. The advent of peace saw his resurgence as a colourist establishing his reputation as a master of still lifes and interiors of theatrical stillness and beauty. Almost every year he visited Iona with Cadell producing seascapes which capture the unique clarity of Scottish light.

By the time of his death in 1935, aged 66, Peploe was hailed as ‘the real leader of the forward movement in Scotland.’