Works by JD Fergusson on view in Lyon & Turnbull's Glasgow gallery. Credit: Martin Shields
Works by JD Fergusson on view in Lyon & Turnbull's Glasgow gallery. Credit: Martin Shields

John Duncan Fergussson: new exhibition opens on 150th anniversary of Scottish Colourist’s birth

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of John Duncan Fergusson (1874-1961), the longest-lived and most international of the pioneering group of artists known as the Scottish Colourists.

To mark the occasion, fine art auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull has curated a special touring exhibition of Fergusson’s paintings and sculptures, A Scottish Colourist at 150: J.D. Fergusson, in partnership with the London-based Fleming Wyfold Art Foundation.

The exhibition featuring a selection of more than 20 paintings and sculpture travel to Lyon & Turnbull’s Gallery on Bath Street, Glasgow.

It opens in Glasgow, the city Fergusson called home for the last two decades of his life, on 11 March. 

All the works to be shown have been lent from private collections and by the Fleming Wyfold Art Foundation, owner of what is considered the finest collection of Scottish art, from the seventeenth century to the present day, outside public institutions.

Featuring more than 25 works by Fergusson, the exhibition has been co-curated by Lyon & Turnbull’s Senior Specialist in Modern & Contemporary Art, Alice Strang, and James McNaught, the company’s Head of Business Development.

John Duncan Fergusson Eástre (Hymn to the Sun), 1924 (cast 1991) Bronze, 42cm high Private Collection. Credit: Alex Robson

In her previous role as a Senior Curator at the National Galleries of Scotland, Alice Strang curated its acclaimed Fergusson retrospective in 2013-14 and edited the accompanying publication.

This landmark year in celebrating Fergusson’s legacy will also be marked by Culture Perth & Kinross, custodians of the largest and most important holding of his work. The artist’s family had close links with Perthshire and the cultural body was presented with the collection by the J. D. Fergusson Art Foundation in 1991.

A display devoted to Fergusson and his partner, dance pioneer Margaret Morris (1891-1980), will be installed in a new space dedicated to their joint creative achievements in the redeveloped Perth Art Gallery, following the opening of the new Perth Museum on 30 March 2024.

Born in 1874 in Leith, near Edinburgh, J.D. Fergusson is one of the four artists, along with fellow Colourists F. C. B. Cadell, G. L. Hunter and S. J. Peploe, who are revered as the masters of modern Scottish art.

‘Fergusson was born at the height of the Victorian era and died as the decade known as the ‘Swinging Sixties’ was getting underway,’ said Co-curator Alice Strang.

‘More than any other British artist, he was involved in the very birth of modern Western art in pre-World War One Paris and his international career included three solo exhibitions in America

‘He spent long periods living in Paris and London and played an important role in the Scottish art world after World War Two from his base in Glasgow.

‘The works on display follow Fergusson’s emergence as an artist of sophistication in Edwardian Edinburgh, to his role in the development of modern art in Paris, to the inspiration he found in the Scottish Highlands and the joy of portraying the pupils of Morris’s dance Summer Schools held in France from the 1920s to the 1950s.

‘A selection of sculptures reveal Fergusson’s lesser-known talents as the only sculptor amongst the Colourists, led by the celebrated Eástre (Hymn to the Sun) of 1924.’

John Duncan Fergusson Boulevard Edgar Quinet. Credit: Culture Perth & Kinross Museums and Galleries.

James Knox, Director of The Fleming Collection, added: ‘The Fleming Collection is not short of brilliant paintings, but without doubt our Scottish Colourists are the most dazzling, as our recent hugely successful touring exhibition proves. It has now been seen by over 75,000 visitors across eight regional galleries in the UK.

‘Our three Fergussons in the exhibition display his sensitivity to the zeitgeist, summoning up 1890s international swagger as well as 1920s geometric modernity, with all the technical assurance and originality of an artist who knows his worth.’

WHAT: A Scottish Colourist at 150: J D Fergusson
WHEN: 11 March – Friday 22 March, Mondays to Saturdays, 10:00 to 16.00  (by appointment)
WHERE: Lyon & Turnbull, 182 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 4HG.

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