Lot 99: [§] JOHN DUNCAN FERGUSSON R.B.A. (SCOTTISH 1874-1961) WOMAN ON A BENCH 24cm x 19cm (9.5in x 7.5in)
December 8, 2016
Edinburgh, United KingdomLive Auction
[§] JOHN DUNCAN FERGUSSON R.B.A. (SCOTTISH 1874-1961)
WOMAN ON A BENCH
Oil on canvasboard
24cm x 19cm (9.5in x 7.5in)
Good original condition - pin-pruicks to top left hand and right hand corners also to centre of extreme left hand edge
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Provenance:Mrs Margaret Morris Fergusson
Exhibited:The Arts Council of Great Britain, Scottish Committee, J.D.Fergusson Memorial Exhibition 1961-62, no.66
Note: The charming, vibrant sketch Woman on a Bench encapsulates much of John Duncan Fergusson''s artistic approach and preoccupations; creating a visually powerful and colourful scene, despite its small scale.
Women on a Bench follows from Fergusson''s early attempts to hone his observation and painting skills en plein air in Edinburgh, dashing around the city with a specially made paint-box, on which his small panels could double up as both painting surface and paint-box lid. This skillset translated smoothly into the flânerie lifestyle Fergusson was delighted to adopt in the artistic hub of early 20th century Paris; wandering the streets and parks and spending time in the pavement cafés scattered throughout the city. He started to use conté crayons to capture the elegant fashions and interesting figures that he found in the streets in Paris, as here, where the female figures sport the large hats and slim silhouettes that were particularly fashionable at the time.
In his French oil sketches, his palette became more vibrant, as seen in the verdant green and azure blue of Women on a Bench. Fergusson was heavily inspired by the Fauvist movement and their use of shockingly strong, complementary colour pairings. His interpretation of this approach is most visible in his elegant female portraits, but it is also apparent in the contrasting colours used in the lush palette here, the red and burgundy details lifting the green tones. Close observation reveals a wonderful range of hues, making it clear how he earned his name as a ''colourist.''
Fergusson''s increased confidence is clear in Woman on a Bench; in the fluidity of the handling and boldness in leaving areas of the canvas bare, offering a delightful contrast between the regular, rough texture and sandy linen colour of the visible canvas and the fluent application of bright toned oil paint. The viewer is at once transported to this moment of observation in the Luxembourg Gardens, and simultaneously viscerally aware that this is an artist''s production, and his particular vision of such a moment.