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The sitter of the portrait, thence by descent
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The Arts Council of Great Britain, Scottish Committee, J. D. Fergusson Memorial Exhibition November 1961-June 1962, no.129, (where lent by Mr and Mrs J.F. Arnott); this exhibition toured to Edinburgh, Diploma Galleries of the Royal Scottish Academy, 11 November - 2 December 1961, Glasgow, Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum, 9 December 1961 - 6 January 1962, Dundee, Dundee Art Gallery, 13 - 27 January 1962, Aberdeen, Aberdeen Art Gallery, 3 - 24 February 1962, Stirling, The Smith Art Gallery, 3 -17 March 1962, Perth, Perth Art Gallery, 24 March - 7 April 1962, Eastbourne, The Towner Art Gallery, 12 May - 2 June 1962
Glasgow, William Hardie Gallery, Independent Painting in Glasgow, 1940-1955, no.32 (on loan)
Glasgow, Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum show (GAGMA), 1992, no.274
Edinburgh, National Galleries of Scotland, The Scottish Colourist Series: JD Fergusson, 7 December 2013 - 15 June 2014 (on loan)
P.G. Konody stated in The Times that 'Mr Fergusson is the most stimulating and intriguing of this group of modern Scotsmen.' Fergusson was the most international of the Scottish Colourists, exhibiting outside Scotland from early on in his career. His lengthy stays in Paris from 1907-1913, and 1929-1939 had a great impact upon his artistic output, and the influence of Matisse, Derain and the Fauves can be seen in the almost wild use of colour in his work. He was the most involved with the European art world of all of the Colourists.
In Paris in the 1910s, Fergusson's work underwent a significant change. Perhaps inspired by the Ballets Russes and its interpretation of Scheherazade (in which the performers appeared virtually naked, dancing in front of highly coloured and patterned backdrops), Fergusson then began to produce a series of female figure paintings focussing on the often nude form with fabulous displays of colour surrounding his subjects. They which were quite unlike anything he had previously shown, and included such works as Poise (sold for £638,500 at Christie's, London in 2014) and Grace McColl (sold for £565,250 at Christie's, London in 2010). Martha in Pink, although painted four decades later, shows very clear similarities with this series in Fergusson's oeuvre.
A love of colour and its skilful manipulation is apparent throughout Fergusson's work; of equal importance was his use of rhythmic line. His portraiture explored what came to be known as some of the defining qualities of 'Colourist' painting, and Fergusson was unafraid to experiment with both the sitter and the backgrounds in his works. He was a man of great creativity who, without doubt, possessed the necessary qualities for modern painting which he identified in his book Modern Scottish Painting (1943): 'vision, imagination, independence of spirit, rhythm, colour, sense, courage, invention and creative power'.
Of the four Scottish Colourists, Fergusson was the only one whose personal partner was of great importance to an understanding of his work. After meeting Margaret Morris in 1913, her dance pupils provided Fergusson with an endless supply of models, with the female form being by far Fergusson's preferred genre, in contrast to the other Colourists who favoured still life and landscapes. He was the only one of them to work in three dimensions, and hints of his nigh-on cubist approach to portraiture can be seen here in Martha in Pink.