JOHN DUNCAN FERGUSSON RBA
Leith 1874 - 1961 Glasgow
John Duncan Fergusson was the fourth and most independent member of the group of Scottish Colourists. Intellectually more receptive to the artistic ideas he encountered in Paris, he evolved a distinctive style of his own. Having embarked on a medical career, Fergusson never matriculated and gave up in order to devote himself to art. He first visited Paris in the mid-1890s and attended classes at the Académie Colorossi. During this period he was impressed by the works of Richard Parkes Bonington (1802-1828) in the Louvre and the Impressionists in the Salle Caillebotte in the Musée du Luxembourg. He visited Morocco in 1899 and Spain in 1901, the year in which he became a member of the Royal Society of British Artists.
Fergusson held his first one-man exhibition at the Baillie Gallery, London in 1905 and settled in Paris two years later, where he befriended the Anglo-American circle of artists. He was greatly influenced by Henri Matisse (1869-1954) and the Fauves which resulted in the brightening of his palette and a new boldness of line. From 1910 onwards, a new theme dominated his work, that of the female nude in pictures characterised by their rich colouring and rhythmic, geometric patterning. One of these works, entitled Rhythm, gave rise to a literary magazine of the same title, of which he became editor in 1911. He met Margaret Morris, his future wife in 1913, and visited Cassis with Peploe the same year.
At the outbreak of the First World War, Fergusson returned to London; he was appointed a War Artist with the Royal Navy in 1918 and painted a series of Portsmouth Docks. He held two exhibitions in New York in 1926 and 1928 and returned to Paris in 1929, where he remained until the outbreak of the Second World War. Fergusson moved back to Glasgow in 1940 where he founded the New Art Club, out of which emerged the New Scottish Group in 1942. His first retrospective exhibition was held at the McLellan Galleries in 1948, and he was made an honorary LL.D. of the University of Glasgow in 1950.
The work of John Duncan Fergusson is represented in Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums; the University of Aberdeen; Rozelle House Galleries, South Ayrshire; Dundee Art Galleries and Museums; the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh Council; Kirkcaldy Galleries, Fife; the Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow; Glasgow Museums Resource Centre; Ferens Art Gallery, Hull; McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Inverclyde; Tate Britain, Imperial War Museums, Arts Council Collection, Government Art Collection, Royal Academy of Music and the Fleming Collection, London; Manchester City Galleries; Paisley Museum and Art Galleries, Renfrewshire; Perth & Kinross Council; Rugby Art Gallery and Museum; the National Trust for Scotland; the University of Stirling; Southampton City Art Gallery; Atkinson Art Gallery, Southport and Ulster Museum, National Museums Northern Ireland.