Acquired directly from the Artist by the Father of the present owner
Thence by descent
The sitter in this portrait is the Irish American artist Anne Estelle Rice, whom Fergusson met after settling in Paris in 1905. For a while, the couple shared a close relationship both emotionally and artistically. In her biography, Living Paint: J. D. Fergusson, Kirsten Simister writes that, "Rice's vivacious personality provided a good match for Fergusson. She shared his curiosity and love of adventure..." Captivated by her beauty, intellect and talent, she was the inspiration for many of Fergusson's paintings during this period.
About this time from 1907, Fergusson's paintings display a boldness quite separate from the fluid, Whistlerian brushwork prior to this period. In The Blue Dress, the paint is applied both heavily and forcefully and a confidence emanates from Rice's open pose and direct gaze. She fills the picture space and the lack of depth heightens the confrontation between sitter and viewer. Fergusson was well aware of different developments in Paris at this time, and in the changing approaches to his paintings during this period, he demonstrates a willingness to absorb and respond before forming his own distinct path.
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