Artists have been painting peaches for at least two thousand years (there is a mural in a villa in Herculaneum, and a YouTube video of how to paint peaches); beautifully coloured, interestingly rounded and creviced, they look deceptively simple to reproduce, but the velvety texture and misted bloom defeat many artists. Stephen Rose’s ability to capture these nuances of surface is displayed with panache in this classical still life – the soft plush skins of the peaches set against the harder sheen and bloom of the greengages and the translucent glow of the cherry. The fruit is further contrasted with the gleaming stone shelf where they sit, and the soft, cardboard texture of the supermarket fruit tray. Once more a modern container – the detritus of our consumerism – is given a Chardinesque grace, and the enigmatic detail of the circle inscribed in the background gives a metaphysical edge.
Stephen Rose was born in Rochford, Essex, in 1960. His career as an artist began when, aged 8, he saw a print of Caravaggio’s Conversion of St Paul. He was trained at the Medway College of Art (1979-80), Cheltenham College of Art (1980-83; BA Hons in Fine Art), the British School in Rome (1982), and the Royal Academy of Art (1983-86; Diploma in Fine Art). In 1992 he was elected Brother of the Art Workers Guild, Bloomsbury, London.
He has won various awards, including the British Institute Award, 1983; the Royal Academy Painting Prize, 1984; the Landseer Scholarship, 1985; the Richard Ford Travelling Scholarship, 1986 (when he studied at the Prado, Madrid); and the Royal Overseas League International Painting Competition Travelling Prize, 1987 (when he visited in northern India). He has exhibited at the ICA, the Mall Galleries, the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and the National Portrait Gallery (BP Portrait Competition); in 2001 he had his first one-man exhibition at Target, in Munich, Germany.
Publications: How to paint in oils, Winsor & Newton, 2008