John Duncan Fergusson

Dieppe, 14 July 1905 : Night (1905)

About this artwork

This painting was one of Fergusson's largest and most ambitious of the period. It is much indebted to Whistler's Firework Nocturne paintings, not only for its subject, but also in the reliance on tonal harmonies. A memorial exhibition of Whistler's work was held in Paris and London in 1905, which Fergusson may well have seen. The man dressed in grey with his back to us, standing on the left, is the artist S.J. Peploe. Peploe and Fergusson met at the turn of the century and often went on painting trips together, particularly to France.

John Duncan Fergusson

John Duncan Fergusson

‘Scottish Colourist’ John Duncan Fergusson is recognised as one of the most influential Scottish painters of the 20th century. Mostly self-taught, he moved to Paris in 1907, where he became a member of the Parisian art circles to which artists such as Matisse and Picasso also belonged. The outbreak of the First World War forced him to return to Britain, and by 1918 he was an established member of the art scene in Chelsea, London. In 1929 he went back to Paris for a further eleven years before moving to Glasgow, where he lived until his death. Like his friend S J Peploe, Fergusson’s early work was influenced by that of Whistler and the Glasgow Boys, but in France he came across Fauvism and adopted a similar style, using pure, bright colours and bold, rhythmic contours.