Fergusson made Paris his home from 1905 and lived there until 1914, returning again to France from 1925 until 1939. In 1907, there was a major Cézanne retrospective at the Salon d'Automne, and moving in a lively artistic circle that included Derain, Delauney, Camoin, Marquet and Gaudier-Brzeska, Fergusson would have no doubt seen it.
Picasso, Matisse and Vlaminck were a great influence on the artist: the bold colour palette of the Fauves and the geometry of Cubism changed the direction of Fergusson’s work towards the end of the 1910s. He combined this with the inspiration he found in the powerful dancing and original costumes of Diaghilev's Ballet Russe and choreography of his lover, the dancer, Margaret Morris.
In keeping with this development, Fergusson formed an interest in sculpture, which enabled him to take his painting a stage further and place an artwork in the round. His first was a self-portrait, conceived in 1908, and he continued to make sculptural works for the next ten years, in a variety of media: stone, wood, brass, terracotta and bronze.
Although Déesse et des Fruits was painted in 1930, central to the composition is the naked female torso that Fergusson conceived around 15 years earlier. The key inspiration for this figure and other similar works were the South-East Asian sculptures, with their brooding exoticism which he studied at the Trocadero Museum in Paris. Alongside this, Margaret Morris was choreographing a stark and dramatic dance based on the Oriental theme called Le Chant Hindu in 1915. Fergusson was able to interpret these influences to create a modernist, pared-down and geometric treatment of the subject.
Fergusson painted several works around this date with a similar subject matter, probably the best known is Eastre and Fruits from 1929 - by which time he had re-settled in Paris. Déesse et des Fruits is a wonderful celebration of the Art Deco period. It is an unambiguous celebration of fecundity, with the plentiful ripe harvest of pears, apples, bananas and grapes, placed in a triangular formation at the base of the composition. Drawing the eye to the naked female torso with her rounded hips, smooth stomach and breasts, Fergusson invites you to her bountiful feast. Placed behind, is the scarlet drape that pulls the viewer to the central element of the painting. Geometric patterns from a curtain frame the composition, and give the present work its modern and dynamic aura.