Now it has emerged the Edinburgh-born painter, famed for his post-impressionist work, avoided being sent to the First World War after taking his aesthetic dislike of the khaki colour of the Army uniform to military chiefs.
When the upper age limit for conscription was raised to 51 in the spring of 1918, Fergusson suddenly found himself facing being called up.
But according to research uncovered for a new BBC Scotland radio and online series, the painter took his uniform complaint to senior commanders.
And following interventions to the Admiralty by his influential friends, Fergusson, who died in 1961 aged 86, went on to become unofficial artist for the Royal Navy in Portsmouth Docks that summer.
Alice Strang, senior curator at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, said: "He really did everything he could to avoid being sent to France."