John Duncan Fergusson, 1873 - 1961. Artist

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John Duncan Fergusson, 1873 - 1961. Artist about 1902
  • Scottish Art
Born and bred in Leith, John Duncan Fergusson is said to have briefly trained as a naval surgeon before deciding to become an artist. Around 1893 he enrolled at the Trustees' Academy in Edinburgh, but, like many of his contemporaries, was disappointed with its teaching and left. Without any further formal art training he set up a studio in Edinburgh, and from 1895 made frequent trips to Paris, moving there in 1907. He became involved in the Parisian art scene and was greatly influenced by the work of French contemporary artists. This relatively early self-portrait, painted about 1902, shows a strong awareness of sculptural form. Its bold brushwork is characteristic of his later work, whereas the rich, dark colours of this portrait later give way to a cooler and lighter palette.

Glossary Open

Trustees' Academy

The Trustees’ Academy was founded in Edinburgh in 1760 by the Board of Trustees for the Improvement of Fisheries and Manufactures in Scotland. This was the earliest publicly funded art school in Britain, but during the early years it was essentially an elementary drawing school dedicated to applied design. The students included practical craftsmen as well as fine artists. The school gradually developed more facilities for advanced fine art education, including a plaster cast collection. In 1826, it relocated to a new building on The Mound, which was erected by the Board. The Trustees’ Academy was reformed in 1858, using the well established government Schools of Design in London as its model, and was the direct ancestor of Edinburgh College of Art, established in 1907.

Trustees' Academy


  • Acc. No. PG 2515
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 50.80 x 56.40 cm (framed: 77.80 x 83.40 x 7.50 cm)
  • Credit Purchased 1982