This autumn, we are pleased to bring to auction on Wednesday 16 November, 'Château de Lasfonds: An International Collector'. The collection, curated over 30 years, brings together an eclectic range of artworks in an elaborate fusion of the traditional and contemporary to create a wonderful aesthetic throughout the restored Château. From the wonderful selection of modern art, are two works by John Duncan Fergusson (1874-1961).
John Duncan Fergusson is regarded as one of the most important Scottish colourists, alongside Samuel Peploe, Francis Cadell and Leslie Hunter. He was born in Leith, on the north shore of Edinburgh in 1864. Following his passion for the arts, Fergusson enrolled at the Trustees Academy in Edinburgh but quickly became frustrated with the traditional teaching techniques and set off on his travels across Morrocco, Spain and France. Encounters with artists such as Samuel Peploe, Matisse and Picasso were to have a great impact on Fergusson’s career who found himself at the forefront of modern art. His exquisite combination of techniques and influences he picked up in France together with his strong Scottish roots resulted in a body of work which was exciting and innovative.
In 1907, Fergusson moved to Paris and became entwined in the theatrical world, sculpting and drawing dancers, captivated by the female form in motion. Fergusson went on to sketch for the Ballet Russes and, alongside Peploe, Anne Estelle Rice and Jessica Dismorr, became part of the avant-garde Rhythmist group. In 1913, Fergusson met the important contemporary dancer Margaret Morris who was to become his lifelong partner. In lot 146, illustrated above, Fergusson transports the viewer to the exclusive and idyllic coastal town of Dinard. Fergusson and his partner first visited Dinard in 1920. Morris subsequently opened up a summer dance school in the beautiful fortified town in Brittany and Fergusson would join her to capture the exotic dancers and the picturesque landscape that surrounded them. The pairs’ cross-fertilisation of ideas, exploring and combining dance, movement, and rhythm would be a reoccurring theme throughout his career.
Dinard fuelled the couple’s enthusiasm for an outdoor lifestyle, basking in the summer sun, swimming and exploring the coastal landscape. This passion and love of the landscape is captured in the lot titled ‘Dinard, The Islands’. Light and colour were at the core of Fergusson’s approach to painting and this work is no different. However, his sophisticated approach in 1930 introduced a bolder style that played with line and form. The trees almost look like dancers with their curved trunks and detailed branches applied using small, repetitive brushstrokes in graduating colours of green. This contrasts with the crisp blocks of colour in a subdued cool palette which make up the coastal view. The lot is an outstanding example of Fergusson’s landscape painting which captures the mood and moment in time where he and Morris were whiling away the summer.
Wednesday 16 November | 10.30am GMT
Donnington Priory, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2JE
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