Clementines are rare in Old Master paintings: far more exotic and unusual than other citrus fruit. Thus, in a Hans van Essen still life of a table weighted with luxurious items – lobsters, a silver ewer and platters, a silver-gilt cup, a crystal glass of wine, grapes, fine linen and porcelain bowls – there are only four clementines, rather than the abundant heaps of oranges and lemons of contemporary paintings. Only in the 20th century do they become common enough for artists to revel in the saturated colours and rougher skin of tangerines; artists such as Félix Vallotton and Tamara de Lempicka. Stephen Rose, like de Lempicka, revels in the contrast of a rich cadmium orange with the bottle green elongated leaves, and like her contrasts the asymmetrical fruit with a smooth round bowl. The dull greenish aqua background of the Rose is his own, however: a shifting multiplicity of colours and tones, it conjures an illusion of unmeasurable, vibrating space, and providing a jewel-like complement to the fruit.
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