Three paintings and a drawing by J D Fergusson acquired by Perth Museum and Art Gallery between 1983 and 2009 with NFA grants totalling £9,655.
In the year that J D Fergusson (1874-1961) is the subject of a major retrospective at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, an unprecedented number of works by the Scottish Colourist can be seen on display across Scotland. The Fergusson Gallery has been working in partnership with the National Galleries of Scotland to celebrate his contribution to Scottish art.
The Fergusson Gallery in Perth is home to the archives of J D Fergusson and his lifelong partner Margaret Morris (1891-1980), the pioneering dancer, choreographer and founder of Margaret Morris Movement. The gallery holds the largest single holding of works by Fergusson in public ownership and opened in 1994 after the J D Fergusson Art Foundation gifted the collections to Perth & Kinross Council. Since then, the collections have been developed and are continually displayed. The gallery also houses works by Fergusson’s circle including Margaret Morris and members of the New Scottish Group. Additionally a collection of contemporary Scottish art has been developed through the J D Fergusson Art Award which supports the development of artists through offering both travel and exhibition awards.
The National Fund for Acquisitions has been central to growing the collections with the acquisition of Le Cirque Medrano, The Trocadero, Paris and a drawing of Elizabeth Fergusson, the Artist’s Sister. The Fund also assisted Perth to acquire its first Fergusson in 1983 with A Village in a Valley which is part of Perth Museum & Art Gallery’s collections.
This painting originated in one of Fergusson’s Highland tours. It can be seen on display as part of the current exhibition at the Fergusson Gallery. J D Fergusson: Picture of a Celt looks at how Fergusson placed great importance in his Perthshire ancestry. Although born in Leith, he saw himself first and foremost as a ‘Perthshire lad’ and increasingly cited this Highland heritage as the source of his creativity. The exhibition focuses on this connection with Perthshire and explores how his sense of belonging to a Celtic nation shaped his artistic career. Fergusson’s father came from Logierait, just south of Pitlochry, and his mother from Moulin, at the foot of Shiehallion. He reportedly enjoyed summers in Highland Perthshire with relatives at Strathtay and in her biography of Fergusson Margaret Morris recalled:
Fergus’s father sent him to spend holidays with relations still living in the Highlands and he never tired of talking of the mountains, the waterfalls, the rivers, the birds and animals … Fergus loved his uncle and though he only spent a few holidays with him he fully realised how much he owed to him and the hours he spent talking and teaching the rudiments of fishing and shooting.
Following wishes expressed in his will, Fergusson’s ashes were scattered on the summit of Shiehallion, one of Perthshire’s finest mountains.
Principal Officer (Art)
Perth Museum and Art Gallery
J D Fergusson: Picture of a Celt at the Fergusson Gallery, Perth and The Scottish Colourist Series: J D Fergusson at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern Two), Edinburgh both run until 15 June 2014.