Long Lost Masterpiece Discovered in French Attic Comes to Auction

It was found in a family home in Giverny.

John Duncan Fergusson, Poise (1916), rediscovered in a French attic, and now up for auction. Photo: courtesy Christie's.

A long-lost painting by John Duncan Fergusson, who is considered the most experimental of the Scottish colorists, will be among highlights at Christie’s Modern British and Irish Art Evening Sale on November 19.

Two works by the artist were recently rediscovered in France by a brother and sister who were sorting through the contents of the attic of their family home in Giverny. The pair’s grandparents lived in the area at the turn of the century, when it was home to a community of painters, most notably Claude Monet, with whom they were acquainted.

Leading the evening sale will be Poise, a 1916 Fergusson portrait that has not been publicly exhibited since the artist’s 1918 exhibition at Connell Gallery, where it was his most highly-priced work. At Christie’s, it is expected to sell for £80,000–120,000 ($128,000–192,000).

During the subsequent day sale on November 20, Fergusson’s Anne Estelle Rice, washing carries a pre-sale estimate of £40,000–60,000 ($64,000–96,000). The oil painting features American illustrator-turned-painter Anne Estelle Rice, who was romantically involved with Fergusson between 1906 and 1913, and served as his muse.

This isn’t the first formerly lost Fergusson artwork to make auction headlines this year. In May, Edinburgh auctioneers, Lyon & Turnbull offered a rare Fergusson statue, Eastre, Hymn to the Sun, that the artist, unable to pay to have the piece cast, stashed it under his bed for years (see “Sculpture That Artist Kept Stashed Under His Bed Is Headed to Auction“).

The upcoming Christie’s sale will also feature six L.S. Lowry paintings, the most notable of which is Coal Barge, which could fetch £700,000–1,000,000 ($1.1 million–1.6 million), and Euan Uglow’s Three In One, estimated at £500,000–800,000 ($800,000–1.3 million) and perhaps the most important painting by the British artist to come to market.


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