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Gallery in public appeal for works by Scots Colourist

GLASWEGIANS are being asked to help stage a major exhibition featuring the art of one of the most influential Scottish painters of the 20th century.

JD Fergusson
JD Fergusson

The National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) are mounting a major show by Scottish Colourist JD Fergusson and are now hoping the public will come forward with works by the painter, or which they think might be by the painter.

Unusually, the NGS are also asking anyone in Glasgow who remembers John Duncan Fergusson to come forward with memories, stories and anecdotes of Fergusson in Glasgow or stories relating to his partner, the equally distinguished dancer and choreographer Margaret Morris.

Any newly discovered paintings or drawings, as well as the memories of Fergusson and Morris, will be considered for inclusion in the major show in the winter of 2013, the first major retrospective of his work for more than 40 years.

After spells living in London and Paris, Fergusson, born in Leith, Edinburgh in 1874, moved to Glasgow in 1940, where he settled with Morris.

The couple played a crucial role in galvanizing the city's art scene, being founder members of the New Art Club, a meeting and exhibiting society, as well as the New Scottish Group.

Fergusson's interest in "Celticism" and the modernist movement also made him a key figure in the Scottish Renaissance movement.

Throughout the 1950s, the couple spent a long period in the south of France, where Morris's creative dance movements and the students at her Summer Schools became Fergusson's favourite models.

Fergusson died in 1961, being the longest-lived of the Scottish Colourists, the group which also includes painters and artists FCB Cadell, Samuel Peploe and GL Hunter.

Alice Strang, a senior curator at the National Galleries of Scotland, said: "This is really a public call for pictures, drawings and sculptures, too as Fergusson was one of the few Colourists to work in sculptures as well in painting, and we are very interested in finding some of them, and he was a superb draughtsman as well, so we would love to find some drawings too.

"This is a little bit unusual in that we are looking for stories and memories of Fergusson and Margaret Morris as well – we hope there are still some people in Glasgow who remember Fergusson and Morris, especially as she was such a important figure in her own right."

She added: "There was a modest show of his work in the 1960s but this will be the biggest retrospective of his work since then.

"His time in Paris is very interesting, his circle of friends there included figures such as Matisse and Picasso.

"In his later years he was very involved in the art scene in Glasgow, and he worked with the another generation of artists with whom he was very generous."

Ms Strang said all responses to the call for artworks and stories about Fergusson and Morris will be treated in confidence.

People who think they have works by Fergusson or memories of the artist and his partner can contact Ms Strang through the National Galleries of Scotland.

Fergusson lived from 1874 to 1961 and was mostly self-taught, and he moved to Paris in 1907 with his friend and fellow Colourist Peploe in 1907.

More than any of his Scottish contemporaries, Fergusson assimilated and refined the latest developments in French painting.

He quickly became intimately involved with the Parisian avant-garde scene, growing familiar with the expressive techniques of Fauve artists, such as Matisse. He met Morris (who lived from 1891 to 1980) in 1913, and they became a life-long couple.

The outbreak of the First World War forced the couple to return to Britain, and by 1918 he was a member of the art scene in Chelsea, London, while she established the Margaret Morris Club, an important gathering place for local artists, writers and composers.

In 1929, the couple returned to Paris for 11 years before moving to Glasgow, where they settled.

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