Paris was in the early years of the new century, an ever changing city considering the aesthetic and philosophical ideals of many of the great philosophers, mathematicians and writers of our time, a city overflowing with the excitement of Modern Art, and the seasons of Diaghaliev's Ballet Russe.
In the first edition of Rhythm to which Fergusson was the art Editor, Middleton Murry wrote of the closeness of the two disciplines of Art and Philosophy. 'Art is consciously eternal. The creation of art is the expression of the continuous and undying in the world. It is the golden thread that runs through a varied texture, showing firm, brilliant, and unbroken when the fabric has fallen away. Art sweeps onward, and by its forward march alone has its being. It is imperishable because through all the ages it is life; because the artist's vision is a moment's lifting of the veil, a chord caught and remembered from the vast world music, less or more, yet always another bond between us and the great divinity immanent in the world'. It was observations such as this which the artists of Paris were immersed in, and were undoubtedly of some impact to the young artists.
Fergusson had since 1907 produced a group of portraits of elegantly dressed women in fashionable hats, an example of which was La Cocarde which was sold by Christie's Glasgow 7 December 1989, lot 314.
This portrait which was painted in 1911 has the bolder qualities of a fauvist painting, where Fergusson has handled the strong colour with great bravura, but without ever reaching the extreme primative form of the fauve portraits. The dominant background of heavily abstract patterned stylised fruit motifs and curvilinear forms continues the theme which appears in other paintings of the period including Rhythm Collection which is probably one of Fergusson's greatest works and combines the essence of life and dance with strong Celtic design. ( University of Stirling)