JOHN DUNCAN FERGUSSON, R.B.A.
signed, dated and titled on the reverse: J.D. Fergusson/ Paris/ 1910./ "La Force"
oil on board
67 by 57cm., 26¼ by 22½in.
The board is slightly warped but is providing a stable structural support. Some areas of fine craquelure and paint seperation visible only on close inspection. Otherwise the work appears to be in very good overall condition.
UV light inspection reveals some minor flecked retouchings to the background lower left and some minor touches to the left hand framing edge. There is an area of flecked retouchings to the figures stomach. Some very minor touches elsewhere.
Held in a decorative frame.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE.
Collection of Margaret Morris;
Sotheby's, London, 26 November 1969, lot 168;
The Leicester Galleries, London;
Private Collection, Scotland;
Christie's & Edmiston's, Glasgow, 10 April 1980, lot 67;
Portland Gallery, London;
Duncan R. Miller Fine Arts, London, where purchased by the present owner
Cologne, Kunst Ausstellung des Sonderbrundes, 1912, no.32;
London, Doré Galleries, Pictures by John Duncan Fergusson, 1914, no.5;
Glasgow, The Arts Council of Great Britain Scottish Committee, J.D. Fergusson Memorial Exhibiton, 1961-62, no.54;
London, The Leicester Galleries, 1964, no.57;
London, The Leicester Galleries, 1970, no.30;
London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, The Fine Art Society, J.D. Fergusson Centenary Exhibition, 1974, no.48;
Glasgow, Dundee, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Avignon, The Scottish Arts Council Touring Exhibition, Colour, Rhythm and Dance, 1985-86, no.35;
New York, Beadleston Gallery, The Scottish Colourists, 1998;
London, Portland Gallery, The Four Scottish Colourists, 2002;
London, Duncan R. Miller Fine Arts, J.D. Fergusson: The Scottish Colourist, 2011, no.24;
Edinburgh, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, J.D. Fergusson: The Scottish Colourist, December 2013-June 2014, no.67
W. Hardie, Scottish Paintings 1837-1939, Edinburgh, 1976, p.92;
A. Strang, E. Cumming and S. McGregor, J.D. Fergusson, exh.cat., National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, 2013, illustrated pl.67
La Force can be considered one of John Duncan Fergusson's most important early nudes, a theme which remained central throughout his career. In this respect he differed from his fellow Colourists who never fully explored the subject. For the Fauves however, the nude was a standard theme and Fergusson would have been concious of the controversy caused by Henri Matisse's Blue Nude (1907, Baltimore) and Andre Derain's Three Bathers (1907, MoMA). This appears to have only encouraged Fergusson's artistic exploration and experimentation of the nude.
La Force was painted in the same year as Rhythm (1910, University of Stirling) which gave its name to an Arts publication by John Middleton Merry and Michael Sadler with Fergusson as Arts editor. A design based on the painting also featured on the front cover of the journal. Rhythm became a driving force behind Fergusson's work during this period, it was for him the very essence of life. Fergusson was hugely influenced by Sergei Diaghilev's Ballet Russes which toured Paris between 1909-1914.
Fergusson’s appreciation of the Fauves fuelled his ambition and experimentation, and his initial series of rhythmic nudes culminated in Les Eus (1911-1913), the largest piece he ever completed. It depicts a ring of six figures engaged in a bacchanalian dance amid lush vegetation, and draws clear inspiration in terms of its composition, handling and hedonistic subject from Matisse’s The Dance (1910, the Hermitage, St Petersburg).
In both Les Eus and La Force, the bold, dark outlines of the figures give the paintings tremendous energy, which is further emphasised in La Force by the strong palette and vigorous brushwork. It is undoubtedly among the most powerful and important works in Fergusson’s oeuvre.