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John Duncan Fergusson (1874-1961)
John Duncan Fergusson (1874-1961)

Summer in the south, Margaret Morris

John Duncan Fergusson (1874-1961)
Summer in the south, Margaret Morris
signed, inscribed and numbered 'J.D. FERGUSSON/N.o 15 summer in the south' (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
16 x 16 in. (40.7 x 40.7 cm.)
Painted in 1914
Margaret Morris and thence by descent to the present owner.
London, Leicester Galleries, 1966, no. 64.

Lot Essay

John Duncan Fergusson was born on 9th March 1874 in the Port of Leith, Edinburgh. He was educated in Edinburgh, and studied medicine intending to become a naval surgeon, however after two years he left to train as an artist. Unimpressed with the formal training that the College of Art offered he set up in his own studio in Glasgow, but in 1895 he decided that he needed to broaden his horizons and left for Paris. Fergusson enrolled in the Academie Colarossi, but found it little better than the College in Edinburgh; it confirmed his opinion that being self-taught was no disadvantage. He returned to Edinburgh after several months in Paris, but would return most summers until 1907 when he eventually moved there.
In 1913, at the invitation of Frank Harris, he decided to leave Paris for the Cte d'Azur. He found a small house on the Cap d'Antibes, behind a modest villa called 'La Farandole', named after one of the traditional dances of France. Fergusson was completely taken by the light, the deep blue sea and the permanently brilliant sun and his pallete became even brighter.

Soon after he settled there he invited Margaret Morris, whom he had met a few months earlier while she was on a visit with her company to the Marigny Theatre in Paris, to share his paradise. In a letter to Fergusson he writes:

'My dear flapper, I've just come back from the hut. Cycled there and back, a beautiful night. The sea was really wonderful and the hut isn't at all bad, I can make something of it. If you don't come down, you're a rotter and no sport and everything else that's bourgeois. As to your reputation-hell!' (M. Morris, The Art of J.D. Fergusson, Glasgow 1974, p.68). (For further information on Margaret Morris see lot 222).
Margaret was enchanted by the hut 'La Petite Farandole' and apart from the war years they would spend almost every summer on the Cap d' Antibes.
In 1910 Fergusson's work developed a new individual character, related to the style of the Cubists, geometrical in concept and with the female nude treated monumentally. There is also a characteristic emphasis on rhythm with figures incorporated into a recurring pattern. After the first world war his style began to change, the brushwork became softer and it lost some of its harshness with the emphasis being on tone rather than colour. The present picture, painted in 1924, is of Margaret Morris enjoying the summer sun and is a fine example of his later work.

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