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It has been said that the contribution of J.D. Fergusson to Scottish art
in the 20th Century is almost unparalleled. There were only a few
artists acknowledged to be part of the explosion of talent which was
seen in Paris in the first decade of this century, and J D Fergusson
was one of these. J D Fergusson was born and brought up in Leith,
Edinburgh, where Art from Scotland is based, but much of his work
was executed in France. He was drawn to the cafe society of Paris
and rubbed shoulders with the young Matisse and Picasso. He was also a
friend of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and it is believed that Fergusson
encouraged Mackintosh to paint.
Fergusson met Anne Estelle Rice (1879 - 1959) in 1906 with whom he shared a close relationship until 1914. Anne Estelle Rice was an artist of Irish American stock from Philadelphia. Fergusson painted a portrait of her in oriental dress placed against a flowered backcloth of roses. The simplicity of the costume and pose permitted an emphasis on colour outlined in blue or red. The decorative background reflects the sitter rather than detracting from he, a Fauvist principle. Fergusson spent many summers at the resort of Paris-Plage where the quality of clear light on land and water increased the tonality of his work. Colour was used to heighten atmosphere. Fergusson became a Societaire of the Salon d'Automne.