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HENRY FERGUSON (c.1655-1730)
  • HENRY FERGUSON (c.1655-1730)


    Oil on canvas

    42 x 56 cm



    Private collection, UK;

    Anonymous sale, Christie’s, London, 9th February, 1979, lot 10;

    Private collection, France






    Typical of Ferguson's work, the present painting is reminiscent of a much larger painting now in the Rijksmuseum of Saint Charles Borromeo in a Fantasy Landscape (SK-A-5006). Elegant figures populate a fantastical and highly classical landscape. The vast majority of the space is usually largely taken up by a classical frieze or stele. In this case the classical stele depicts an elderly man making a sacrifice at a small altar to a small effigy. There is possibly an allusion to Lot and his daughters in the background whose mother is depicted as a salt statue further up the hill.


    Henry Ferguson, or ‘Vergazon’, was probably the son of William Gouw Ferguson, an artist who spent most of his career in the Netherlands, having been admitted to the Guild of St Luke in Utrecht in 1648. A migratory artist like William, Henry was one of several Anglo-Dutch artists working in late seventeenth-century London where, among other things, he painted backgrounds for Sir Godfrey Kneller's portraits. Ferguson later travelled to Toulouse, in the company of Adriaen van der Kabel, and settled in the French city for the remainder of his career. The younger Ferguson was best known for his atmospheric capricci of architectural ruins, often with fragments of monumental sculpture dwarfing smaller figures. Further similar examples of Ferguson's works can be found in the National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh and Ham House, Somerset.

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