One of Stephen Rose’s most striking abilities is his power to render the classic, Chardinesque still life in modern terms. This is perhaps most apparent in this painting of cherries, where he employs the same viewpoint and a similar arrangement of fruit and ‘containers’ on a shelf as can be seen in, for example, Chardin’s Still life with plums, c.1730, New York, Frick Collection. Where Chardin (1699-1779) paints a contemporary wicker dish, glass and bottle, Rose depicts an ordinary supermarket plastic bag, investing the mundane and ephemeral – as his mentor does – with a timeless and enduring grace. These qualities are emphasized by the painting of the background, which in both Chardin’s and Roses’s works is set close behind the still life and yet vibrates with light and colour, producing the illusion of space and atmosphere.
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