Here’s some great insight into a recent publication, an unusual and very special new book devoted to the work of an artist who’s a giant in his field: John Ferguson, the doyen of heraldic artists. Conceived and created by friends, colleagues and admirers of the great man, the volume is both a survey of the range of his art, a best-of, and a tribute to. And what art it is, strikingly colourful and vivid, never seeming flat or static but always alive on the page. It’s our honour to have been involved and we trust the book conveys to Mr Ferguson the great respect and affection which he and his work inspire.
This was to be something different… I’ve written fourteen books but never have I put together a book out of pure admiration, affection even, for the subject.
Initially I was approached by Bill Beaver, editor of The Heraldic Craftsman, the journal of The Society of Heraldic Arts, who proposed a series of high quality books illustrating the work of notable heraldic artists and craftspeople. The great triumvirate of Anthony Wood, Dan Escott and John Ferguson are pre-eminent in this field and I immediately agreed to produce a book of John Ferguson’s work, knowing that ill-health had obliged him to ‘allow his brushes to dry…’.
I have known John for many years. He and I are founder-members of The Society of Heraldic Arts (an international guild of heraldic artists and craftspeople, founded in 1987) and his splendid illustrations enliven our book Basic Heraldry which was published by the Herbert Press in 1993.
From the outset it was agreed that quality should be our watchword: high quality colour reproduction on high quality paper and plenty of white space in which to present the text. John Ferguson provided me with his selection of paintings and line drawings together with material for captions, the agreed format being text on the left-hand page with each of John’s paintings occupying a full page on the right. I also added an Introduction and a section explaining the Ferguson technique.
Having completed the task of selecting the artwork, determining the order in which it should be presented and writing the text I posted the bundle to Peter Clifford, the MD at Boydell & Brewer. Peter and I had worked together in a previous incarnation and it was he who was responsible for publishing my most successful series of books. The task of designing the book was given to Simon Loxley who has created a book that is a superb tribute to John Ferguson’s life and work. John and I are greatly indebted to him and to Mike Webb the Production Director who somehow made sense of my initial ramblings.
Such was the nature of the project that it was imperative that we should find someone to underwrite the cost and after much deliberation the Heraldry Society agreed to do so as joint publishers with Boydell & Brewer. All those of us involved in this project acknowledge their generosity. But it is not intended that the book should appeal only to those with an academic interest in heraldry. It is intended to appeal particularly to all those who admire the unrestrained vigour of its art, the mystery of its symbolism and the nobility of its tradition – all exemplified by John Ferguson’s paintings.
This book not only celebrates John’s pre-eminence as an artist, it also proclaims that generosity of spirit which has been an inspiration to his fellow artists and to those who love and admire his amazing artistry.
Click through the page spreads below for a more in depth look at The Heraldic Art of John Ferguson