Samuelson, Peter: Flowers and Gourds


One of a set of 4 intriguing works in watercolour with detailed pen and ink work. They feel as though they were created just for the fun of it, they’re whimsical, playful and have a sense of theatricality, which is no surprise as Peter Samuelson was working as a set designer at this time.

Signed ‘Pierre’ – as Peter Samuelson often signed himself – and dated ‘oct ’47’.

This is a quite substantial work, the paper is very slightly yellowed – after 75 years! – which adds to its charm, but the colours are very strong, unframed.

Artist: Peter Samuelson (‘Pierre’), (1912-1996)

Title and date: Flowers and Gourds, October 1947

Size: 45.0 x 60.0 cms.


Artist description:

Born in Salisbury, Peter Samuelson attended Eton College where his artistic talents were first recognised and encouraged. He studied at the New York School of Fine and Applied Arts in Paris then moved to the Netherlands where he worked as an illustrator. Following war service as an interpreter, he returned to England working as an illustrator and then a set designer. In the early 1950s, he helped his mother run a hotel in Torquay, where he began to produce the sketched portraits and life studies for which he became well-known. He returned to London in 1952 and ran a series of boarding houses which continued to provide the subjects for his work.

In 1965, he abandoned painting almost entirely, spending the remainder of his life restoring oriental rugs. It was not until the late 1980s that he began to be recognised as an artist. His work was displayed at the Leighton House Museum, London and in 1987, The Gay Men’s Press produced a small book about his work entitled ‘Post-War Friends’.

Despite his great love of painting and drawing, Peter Samuelson had neither the inclination to seek recognition for his work nor the financial imperative to sell them. As a result, he frequently left his paintings and drawings unsigned, and when he did, he would sign them ‘Pierre’ with a date – as with the works offered here – or as ‘Retep, his name in reverse.