Sunday, 3 August 2014

Summer, 1914 (JD Fergusson, 1934)
All weekend I've caught myself thinking, 'This time 100 years ago ... '

So this painting caught my eye when I went to Chichester yesterday for the last exhibition of the excellent Scottish Colourists series that has travelled down from Edinburgh.

It was painted 20 years later, as Fergusson looked back nostalgically to that last golden summer before the war - which must have been rather like this one.

His longterm partner, later his wife, was the avant-garde dancer Margaret Morris who recalled: 'The wonder of the summer at Cap d'Antibes passes all description. Fergus had everything organised, a good supply of charcoal for slow-cooking, omelettes and soups. He had hung a hammock on the big tree, so one could lie in it and pull the ripe figs - sometimes the early ones dropped on one, over-ripe: I remember standing on the tiny balcony and saying to myself - nothing can ever be as perfect as this.'

Fergusson's response to war was less than heroic, although I can't help feeling sympathetic towards someone who felt less than enthusiastic about being conscripted in his 40s.

But although his exuberant colours are so beguiling, there's a shallowness to Fergusson who always seems to trying on some other artist's clothes. Much as I've enjoyed the whole series, and here's my thoughts about Peploe last year, the Cadell exhibition (which I never got around to blogging) was definitely my favourite. Here's why.

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