The Scottish Colourist: J.D. Fergusson
5 July – 19 October 2014
Bringing together over 60 paintings and sculptures from collections from across the UK, including two series of landscapes reunited for the first time in almost 100 years.
Charting the career of the Leith-born, largely self-taught artist, J.D. Fergusson who emerged as part of the Colourist group of painters alongside F.C.B. Cadell, S.J Peploe and G.L. Hunter.
Fergusson moved to Paris in 1907, persuading Peploe to join him shortly after in 1910. His years in the city were to have a huge influence on his style and technique, as he became assimilated with the latest developments in French painting. Fergusson also made his first sculpture while in Paris, a little‐known aspect of his oeuvre, which he is thought to have continued throughout the next 50 years. Examples in wood, stone and bronze are shown here.
When the First World War broke out, Fergusson was forced to move to London, where he joined his partner Margaret Morris and became a member of the Margaret Morris Club – an important gathering place for local artists, writers and composers. Few works by Fergusson survive from the war years, but in July 1918, the Admiralty gave him permission to go to Portsmouth to 'gather impressions for painting a picture'. He spent several weeks there sketching and the resultant series of paintings, including Blue Submarine: Portsmouth Harbour, show Fergusson experimenting with Vorticism.
In 1929, the couple returned to Paris before resettling in Glasgow, where they helped galvanize the city's arts scene through a meeting and exhibiting society, the New Art Club, and its off-shoot, the New Scottish Group.
Throughout the 1950s the couple spent long periods in the south of France, where Morris set up creative dance summer schools and her students became among Fergusson's 'favourite models'. During this late stage of his career, Fergusson developed a distinct style; his pictures full of beauty and poise, as demonstrated in Wisteria, Villa Florentine, Golfe‐Juan of 1957.
An artist of passion and sensuality, he is best known for his depictions of women. The exhibition includes some of his most admired paintings such as The White Dress: Portrait of Jean – a life‐size image of Edwardian femininity featuring Fergusson's partner Jean Maconochie – and his portrait of American artist Anne Estelle Rice, created in 1908.
Additionally, an important series of landscapes which Fergusson painted following a motoring tour of the Scottish Highlands in 1922 are shown together for the first time in 90 years.