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Fergusson, Peter J[ohn]

Date born: 1934

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Wellesley College Feldberg Professor of Art; architectural historian of the Medieval era, particularly Cistercian architecture. Fergusson was the son of Alfred Milnthorpe Fergusson (1894-1970), a British cleric for St. Peter's Church in St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England, and Ursula Mabel Fergusson. He received his bachelor of arts degree from Michigan State University in 1960. He entered Harvard University for graduate work, achieving his M.A.in 1961. There the lectures of Eduard Sekler introduced him to Cistercian architecture which would become a life-long passion. At Harvard he also worked closely James Ackerman and John Coolidge of the Fogg Museum, who, as he whimsically wrote, "tried to make an architectural historian" out of him (Fergusson, 1984). Nearing the completion of his dissertation on twelfth-century Cistercian architecture, Fergusson was hired as an assistant professor first by McGill University in 1965 and then Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA, in 1966. His Ph.D. was granted the following year with a dissertation written under John Kenneth Conant. Fergusson married Lilian Armstrong, also a professor of art at Wellesley. Fergusson published widely thought largely in article form, In 1970 Fergusson was awarded the Reginald Taylor Prize and Medal by the British Archaeological Association for his article on Roche Abbey. He chaired the Boston area Save Venice Foundation between 1980 and 1986. His first book, on Cistercian architecture, for Architecture of Solitude, appeared in 1984 and awarded the Charles Rufus Morey Book Award by the College Art Association of America. He was named Theodora and Stanley Feldberg Professor of Art in 1987. Fergusson was a spring resident at the American Academy in Rome, allowing him to publish is second tome, Rievaulx Abbey, 2001, which received the Alice Davis Hitchcock prize by the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain. For the 125th anniversary of the founding of Wellesley, he co-authored The Landscape and Architecture of Wellesley College, in 2001. As an emeritus professor, Fergusson wrote Canterbury Cathedral Priory in the Age of Becket, which appeared in 2011. LS

Home Country:  United States

Sources: "Acknowledgements." Architecture of Solitude: Cistercian Abbeys in Twelfth-Century England. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984, p. xxii-xxiii; "Peter Fergusson."  Perspectives for an Architecture of Solitude : Essays on Cistercians, Art and Architecture in Honour of Peter Fergusson. Turnhout: Brepols, 2004, pp. ix-x; "Peter Fergusson." Wellesley Public Affairs Profiles, http://www.wellesley.edu/PublicAffairs/Profile/af/pfergusson.html

Bibliography: [dissertation:] English Twelfth Century Cistercian Church Architecture. Harvard, 1967; Architecture of Solitude: Cistercian Abbeys in Twelfth-Century England. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984; Rievaulx Abbey: Community, Memory, Architecture. New Haven, CT: Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art by Yale University Press, 2000; Canterbury Cathedral Priory in the Age of Becket. New Haven, CT: Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art by Yale University Press, 2011.

Subject's name: Peter Fergusson