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John Duncan Fergusson

1874 - 1961

Fergusson was the most cosmopolitan of the four scottish colourists living in France for well over thirty years. A landscape and figure painter, he was born in Atholl, Perthshire. After initially studying medicine in Edinburgh, he took up art, being influenced particularly by Arthur Melville. Like Melville he visited Spain and Morocco. He spent much time in Paris, eventually settling there 1907-38. In 1939 he moved to Scotland.

The youngest of four children, JD Fergusson was born and brought up in Leith. He was educated at the Royal High School in Edinburgh and initially followed a medical career before being drawn to Paris (1895) where he developed his artistic technique and rubbed shoulders with the young Matisse and Picasso, although his watercolour technique owed much to the work of Arthur Melville.. Fergusson's style was characterised by strong colour, evident brush-work and elegance of design. He was strongly influenced by Samuel J. Peploe (1871 - 1935), who had also trained in Paris, and stayed with his family when in Edinburgh. With Peploe, Francis Cadell (1883 - 1937) and George Hunter (1879 - 1931), Fergusson was one of the Scottish Colourists, but maintained studios in Paris and in London, where he met his wife. The Great War saw Fergusson living in London and Edinburgh where he began to paint powerful Scottish landscapes, earning him a one man show in 1923, followed by exhibitions in London and Paris with S.J. Peploe and F.C.B. Cadell. Towards the end of the war, Cadell painted a series of dramatic pictures around the Naval Dockyard at Portsmouth. When the Second World War was looming, Fergusson and his wife settled in Glasgow. He had been friendly with Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868 - 1928) and it is thought that Fergusson encouraged Mackintosh to paint. As a member of the Glasgow School, Fergusson was undoubtedly one of Scotland's most important 20th C. artists. He received an honorary degree from the University of Glasgow (1950) and died in the city some 11 years later.

The University of Stirling was gifted a collection of 14 of his works by his widow (1968).