LONG revered as a masterpiece of Scottish art but unseen in public for almost 50 years, Samuel John Peploe’s Still Life with Tulips and Fan is to go under the hammer at Sotheby’s auction house in London later this month.

Sotheby’s have estimated that the painting, which is owned by anonymous Scot, will fetch between £300,000 and £500,000. But while works by Peploe are in increasing demand, prices for fine art are static at the moment and his personal record sale of £820,000 set two years ago is unlikely to be matched.

The leader of the Scottish Colourist school, Peploe was born in Edinburgh in 1871 and died in the capital in 1935. Works by him and the other Colourists – Francis Cadell, John Douglas Fergusson and Leslie Hunter – are in the collections of the National Galleries of Scotland.

According to Sotheby’s, Peploe moved to Paris in 1910 where he remained for two years, finding inspiration within an artistic milieu that transformed his painting and defined his artistic style.

The auctioneers said: “He met Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso and absorbed the after-effects of Post-Impressionism and Fauvism, and he also became fascinated with the work of Paul Cézanne whose structured analytical take on both landscape and still life subjects would have a profound effect on his painting.

“The artist wrote in 1929: ‘There is so much in mere objects, flowers, leaves, jugs, what-not – colours, forms, relation – I can never see mystery coming to an end’.”

Sotheby’s said: “Unseen for almost 50 years, and never previously offered at auction, Still Life with Tulips and Fan comes to the market from a Scottish private collection.

“Estimated at £300,000-500,000, the painting will be presented for sale in Sotheby’s pioneering cross-category evening auction in London on July 28, Rembrandt to Richter, where it will be offered alongside the season’s top Old Master, Impressionist and Modern, Contemporary, and Modern British works, including one of the last self-portraits by Rembrandt remaining in private hands.”

That last named painting is expected to fetch between £12 million and £16m, so Peploe has a some way to go to match the Dutch master.

Thomas Podd, Sotheby’s Scottish art specialist, said: “We’re thrilled to offer this painting in the context of 500 years of art history.

“Peploe not only established an important connection with European modernism and the Post-Impressionists in Paris, but his lineage can also be traced back to the Dutch masters of the 17th century. Artists such as Ambrosius Bosschaert, who is represented in this sale.

“On a quest to create the perfect still life, Peploe established himself as a daring British modernist who forged a radical response to a centuries-old tradition.”

Sotheby’s describe the painting as “a joyous celebration of colour, painted in a bold modernist style that owes much to the influence of Matisse and Cézanne”, adding: “Still Life with Tulips and Fan was completed in 1923 at the height of Peploe’s artistic powers.

“The planes of brilliant colour are overlayed by the sinous arabesque forms of the tulips to create a dynamic, rhythmic and perfectly balanced composition.

“This work stands as an exceptional example of Peploe’s life-long preoccupation and dedication to the still life and his mastery of the genre.”