Artist: Nan Stark Fergusson

Date of Birth:
Date of Death:
Place of Death:
Daughter of Chris Fergusson
Residence in Dumfries & Galloway:

Exhibited at Royal Scottish Academy from Southdean, Rotchell Road, Dumfries, 1935-1937.


Edinburgh College of Art; Academie Scandinave, Paris.

Professional Bodies:

Member SSA; President SSWA

Exhibited At:

Royal Scottish Academy, Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Art


William Gillies, John Maxwell, Penelope Beaton


Image, portrait of the artist by her mother Chris J Fergusson, by kind permission of the artist’s family.


Painted landscapes, mainly of Galloway and Arran.  Teacher of art George Watson’s Ladies College Edinburgh, 1963-1971.  Her married name was Mrs James Henderson.


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Born, Southdean, Maxwelltown, Dumfries on 9th May 1910, Nan Fergusson was the eldest of three children.  She died in Edinburgh on 8th January 1984.

Her father was a lawyer and Session Clerk of St Michael’s Church, Dumfries, and her mother was the noted artist Chris J Fergusson.  Their home, constructed in 1907, was designed in an Arts and Crafts style.  Both her parents helped to found the Dumfries and Galloway Fine Art Society which is still in existence today.

Nan was a painter in oil and watercolour, still life, portrait and also landscape, the latter mainly Scottish, especially Galloway, Arran, Fife and Berwickshire, but also France and Italy.  She was educated at the Convent School, Maxwelltown, Dumfries and at Edinburgh College of Art where she studied under William Gillies and Penelope Beaton. She obtained three travelling scholarships as well as a post-diploma award.  In 1935 she continued her studies at the Academie Scandinave in Paris under Friesz, then visited Florence, Venice, Rome and Sienna.

In 1937 she married the artist James Henderson with whom she exhibited in Edinburgh and elsewhere.  When resident in the Borders, they helped to form the Galashiels Studio Club in 1949.  Nan, along with other prominent women artists in Edinburgh, exhibited at a group show for a number of years during the Edinburgh International Festival as well as exhibiting regularly at the RSA, RSW and SSA.  From 1963 – 1971 she was a teacher of art at George Watson’s Ladies College in Edinburgh, and in the 1970’s was a much respected President of the SSWA.

Her landscapes were marked by great individuality, with special regard for design, and well considered composition.  Nan successfully brought up five children but continued to paint when the opportunity arose.  Her calm and gentle nature hid a determined personality.