I spotted this picture during a recent visit to Manchester City Art Gallery. It’s by John Fergusson, one of a group of Scottish painters known as the “Scottish Colourists” who were active during the first half of the 20th Century.
I first came across the Colourists when I watched a programme on the BBC about them fronted by Michael Palin last year. And I don’t think I’ve seen any of their pictures before. They were influenced by the Impressionists and Fauvists and spent time painting in both France and Scotland.
According to the Gallery website
“Born in Leith, Fergusson studied medicine in Edinburgh but in 1898 abandoned this career to study art in Paris. He subsequently made repeat visits to the French capital, painting street life and visiting Impressionist exhibitions. The artist finally settled in Paris in 1907.
Fergusson …… mixed in café-society circles and knew the Fauvists Henri Matisse and André Derain.”
I was passing through Gallery 9 on the way to see the photographic exhibition of work by Dorothy Bohm when the picture caught my eye. I like the simplicity of the composition and the style of painting – broad brush strokes and bright colours.
The Impressionist influence is particularly evident in the picture. Close up everything is made up of blobs of paint, but stand back and the picture emerges. The woman’s dress in the foreground is made up of just two or three strokes of bright pink paint applied with a wide brush.
It was painted in 1906, the year before Fergusson settled in Paris.