David Fertig is fascinated by the life and times of late 18th Century Europe, with a particular interest in the military activities of the period. The artist has done an extensive amount of reading about the history of the era, preferring primary texts and the work of historians to fictionalized accounts. Fertig has a large collection of books about uniforms, weaponry, insignia, flags, and so forth, in addition to an immense amount of catalogues about the art of that time. Indeed, he has turned the sitting room of his house into a library, with floor-to-ceiling shelving and narrow passageways between them.
While Fertig’s knowledge and passion about the late 18th Century is considerable, he is not a slave to his subject matter. As can easily be seen in his work, he does not worry about making sure that a ship’s rigging or a colonel’s helmet is depicted accurately. Fertig’s goal is to create work that is satisfying to look at. He harnesses his passion for a particular moment in history to address the timeless concerns of painters: composition, color, line, light and the integration of figure into landscape.
When asked about his interest in this specific moment in history, Fertig replies “It was a time when gentlemanly conduct and the idea of leading an honorable life collided head-on with the realities of modern existence. People were respected if they behaved with courtly manners, even while performing treacherous acts. The struggle to survive and triumph by any means existed side-by-side with a desire to do so gallantly.” He hastens to add that he is not trying to glorify war or privilege one historical moment over any other in his work. Rather, Fertig admits to being a time-traveler, seduced by an earlier age that sparks his creativity.
Fertig’s ambition is to create works that are relevant within the context of the history of painting. The 66-year old painter is not trying to create an homage to an earlier time or to attempt to resurrect an earlier style. Instead he attempts to harness the wisdom acquired through hard work to make paintings that people will want to look at for many years to come.