Blue Submarine (Portsmouth Harbour)

Fergusson was not involved in active military service during the First World War and was never an official war artist but in 1918 he received a commission from the Ministry of Information to produce a series of paintings based on Portsouth Dockyard. He spent six weeks there gathering material from which to work.

During the war years Fergusson's painting style gradually changed, showing a new concern for geometry and a more precise, disciplined method of applying paint. The technique of blocking in colour using square-ended brushes in series of angled strokes, owed much to the influence of Cezanne (1839-1906).

The solid, static shapes created by the moored ships in the docks were transformed into images of calm monumentality and dignity, far removed from the carnage and destruction of the war. The lively colour scheme which is far from representational also enhances a mood of characteristic optimism.

  • Material/Medium: oil paint on canvas
  • Date: 1918
  • Creator: John Duncan Fergusson (1874-1961)
  • Accession number: 1992.241
  • Category: Fine Art
  • Subject: n/a