Spring onions

Oil on panel 33.3 x 45.4cm; s.& d. ’07

Handmade replica of our British 20th Century artist's frame with painted finish

Overall framed size 47 x 59.1cm

Click on image to view at larger size

In another characteristically closely-observed study, Stephen Rose raises the most humble of subjects – bunched spring onions – to the level of a 17th century Dutch still life. The depiction of vegetable life on the cusp of decay, the outer leaves bent and browning, has the same allegorical thrust as a the moths and dying leaves in a flowerpiece by Rachel Ruysch (1664-1750). The viewpoint shuts out any boundaries to the surface on which the onions lie, but they are so fully realized, and the cast shadows and reflected lights so beautifully judged, that they appear to be firmly sited in a real three-dimensional space. The elastic bands are painted as carefully as the ribbon in a Dutch still life, giving by this reference an historical resonance to a contemporary re-making of the genre.

Biographical details

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