[§] JOHN DUNCAN FERGUSSON R.B.A. (SCOTTISH 1874-1961)
15cm high (6in) Estimate £15,000-20,000 + fees Note:
Although a later casting of an edition of 9 made from the plaster is known no other example of this lifetime cast has been recorded.
John Duncan Fergusson is acclaimed as a pre-eminent member of the Scottish Colourists - a group of four artists that thrived with their shared interest and training in the French art scene. It is strange to think that a Scottish Colourist would choose a medium so restricted in colour, and he was the only of the four to work in three dimensions. Nonetheless, the period of 1918-22 saw the peak of his sculptural output, in which it can be assumed his Seated Nude
mould was made. For Fergusson, sculpture presented new, provoking ways to manipulate and experiment with the human form, the physicality of his sculpture as exciting as the colour in his painted works. Lyon & Turnbull are delighted to be offering three sculptural works by the artist in this auction, all of which reveal Fergusson's fascination with the female form. The pose of Seated Nude
is atypical, displaying the woman in a stance of meditation. Her legs are crossed, her arms are outstretched, and her head faces intently forwards. Standing Nude
is a more typical pose for Fergusson, a strong and statuesque female figure stands with her arms clasped behind her, bringing one elbow to point up to the sky, the other drawing down by her side. While Head of Meg
represents, in three-dimensions, the striking features of his long-term partner and muse, the dancer Margaret Morris.
In many ways, the bronze figure of Seated Nude
resembles icons of non-Western art - a field by which he was greatly influenced. Recall, perhaps, the ample imagery of sitting Buddha statues that can be found throughout the Asian continent. Cambodia and India, in particular, were of interest to Fergusson whose Celtic roots, he believed, were shared with these peoples. His time working in Paris, Edinburgh and London introduced him to museum collections of objects from foreign lands, and his highly intellectual approach to art certainly expanded his world view.
Despite the noticeably continental influence on his work, there still remained this Celtic Spirit which he so passionately championed; his newfound interest in sculpture could be likened to the masonry carving of the Celts, his sculptures often suggestive of a certain primitivism in their figuration and handling. During the First World War, Fergusson spent time in Edinburgh directly carving in stone, following attempts in terracotta and clay throughout his stay in Antibes.
Fergusson was producing sculpture alongside his modernist contemporaries working in Paris, such as Jacob Epstein and Constantin Brancusi who were all aligned in their similar choice of material and subject. Nonetheless, judged against concurrent work being produced in Britain, Fergusson's sculptural practice was highly unique in its investigation and rendering of the human form. The offered sculptures demonstrate an assured concoction of influences, cultures, and his intellectual outlook on art. They are one of a select group of pointedly under-appreciated, yet fundamental, sculptures from an artist whose work helped shape 20th Century Modernism.
Sold for £17,500
(buyer's premium included)