Fergusson was enchanted by Paris, regarded at that time as the cultural epicentre of the world, and more specifically the Bohemian atmosphere of Montparnasse, where he lived and worked: ‘I was in Paris without any money or rich relations…but repeatedly encouraged by what some people call “le bon air de Paris, qui semble contenir les effleuves amoureuses et les emanation intellectuelles”. Life is how it should be and I was very happy. The Dome, so to speak, round the corner; l’Avenue quite near; the concert Ronge not far away – I was very much interested in music; the Luxembourg Gardens to sketch in; Colarossi’s class if I wanted to ask for a model. In short everything a young painter could want…’ (J. Geddes and M. Morris, Café Drawings in Edwardian Paris from the Sketch-Books of J D Fergusson, 1974, p.8).
The subject of The Open Air Fête, Armenonville is reminiscent of Auguste Renoir’s iconic Dance at the Moulin de la Galette (1876, Musée d’Orsay) but the style is more modern - more Fauve with its dark outlines and refracted colour. In Paris, Fergusson was fully integrated into the circle of artists leading the modernist revolution, including Henri Matisse, André Derain, Robert Delaunay and Pablo Picasso: ‘I had been accepted by the people I had most respect for. As an artist nothing could be more important.’ (M. Morris, The Art of J.D. Fergusson, p.54).
In the present work, Fergusson depicts the gaiety of the outdoor terrace of the restaurant, the Pavillon d’Armenonville, in the Parc de Bagatelle near the Champs Élysée. The elegant woman with her flamboyant, fashionable hat was probably based upon sketches of Anne Estelle Rice, a fellow artist and Fergusson’s lover in Paris. Fergusson and Rice met in 1907 and he painted her ‘on many occasions’ (K. Sinister, John Duncan Fergusson: Living Paint, p.37). She promenades past a crowded scene, a flânuese observing the scene of modern urban leisure and fashion.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.