Scholar of the Italian baroque and especially Guido Reni; collector. Pepper studied at Columbia University under Howard Hibbard. Interested in the contemporary art scene, Pepper met the rising African-American figurative expressionist painter, Bob Thompson. He and Thompson traveled together on the Queen Elizabeth ship to Paris in 1961. It may have been Pepper who introduced Thompson to baroque painting imagery which the artist later used in his work. Pepper opened a small gallery of modern art, the Friendly Art Store, on the top floor of a three-story building on West 100th Street and Broadway in NY, for the 1962-1963 year. He wrote his master's thesis at Columbia on Guido Reni in 1962 and his dissertation on the same subject, submitted in 1969, both under Rudolf Wittkower. He married Geraldina Ramos. As a young scholar he made the acquaintance of the collector and art historian Denis Mahon with whom he subsequently collaborated on several books. In 1971 Pepper wrote an article for the Art Quarterly on the psychological approach to Guido Reni, one of the artists on whom his fame would rest. In 1984 his monograph and catalogue raisonné on the artist became the standard. Another monograph on Reni appeared only in Italian in 1988. Pepper outlined Reni's technique of reusing standard poses for figures throughout his painting. As an artist much admired in his how time, it fell to Pepper to distinguish autograph works by Reni from his many influenced colleagues. In later years Pepper focused on Annibale Carracci's production of rapid portrait sketches on paper. He was working on a book about these when he succumbed to a heart attack at age 63. He is buried in Mt. Hebron Cemetery, NY.
Pepper, D. Stephen
David Jonathan Stephen Pepper
[dissertation:] Guido Reni's Activity in Rome and Bologna, 1595-1614. Columbia University, 1969; The Baroque Era in Europe and Spanish America: Paintings, Sculpture. Washington, DC: Osuna Gallery, 1983; Bob Jones University Collection of Religious Art: Italian Painting. Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University, 1984; Guido Reni: a Complete Catalogue of his Works with an Introductory Text. New York: New York University Press, 1984; "Caravaggio and Guido Reni: Contrasts in Attitudes." Art Quarterly 34 no. 3 (Autumn 1971): 325-44; "Bacchus and Adriadne in the Los Angeles County Museum: the scherzo as artistic mode." Burlington Magazine 125 (February 1983): 68-75; "Rediscovered painting by Guido Reni." Apollo 90 (September 1969): 208-13.
Golden, Thelma. Bob Thompson. New York: Whitney Museum of American Art/University of California Press, 1998, p. 79 note 196; [obituaries:] Mahon, Denis. "D. Stephen Pepper 1937-2000." Art On Paper 5 no. 4 (March/April 2001): 28-9; (Deaths notices) "Pepper, David Stephen." New York Times December 17, 2000, p. 64.