This extremely attractive painting is very close to similar arrangements by the Scottish colourist Samuel Peploe, and may be a direct copy of a Peploe. However, since no exact model has currently surfaced, it would be satisfying to think that Flanagan is here breaking his technique as faithful copyist, and is producing a distillation of various works by Peploe in which the vase, background curved chair, bowl of apples, drapery and creamy-pink roses all feature separately. Whatever his different sources may have been, Flanagan has produced a beautifully balanced and subtly-composed image, which functions on its own terms as a highly-desirable flowerpiece.
Very little is known about Tom Flanagan, although works by him occasionally surface in provincial salerooms. He cannot be synonymous with the young video artist active in the Enso group c. 2005, nor with the older Canadian artist of the same name. He may be a trained or self-taught amateur artist; he may have been born or possibly still lives in Scotland, since the painters he chooses to copy seem to be mainly Scots: not only the colourists, Peploe and Cadell, but the contemporary artist Jack Vettriano, whose Singing butler he has reproduced. He has painted versions of Cadell’s The eagle mirror, The black hat and Ben More from Iona, and his Still life with roses and fruit is based on an amalgam of flowerpieces by Samuel Peploe. It is possible that he either works for, or haunts the auction houses, where high resolution images of his models, not to mention the works themselves, would be readily available. His Going down Chantilly is closely based on Alfred Munnings’s Mr Vlasto’s Mackwiller, with Jennings up, at Chantilly, which was sold for nearly 2 million dollars by Christie’s New York in May 2002. He has also painted landscapes with cattle, after Sir Alfred Arnesby Brown. He is not a forger, however; his work is always firmly signed in the bottom left-hand corner, in red capital letters.