Maurice Brazil Prendergast
Maurice Brazil Prendergast (1858-1924)
An innovative painter whose work pioneered some of the latest developments in American art, Prendergast is associated with post-Impressionism and considered one of the first American modernists. Although he exhibited with The Eight, most of who were interested in gritty urban realism, Prendergast preferred to depict his subjects in more pleasant and picturesque surroundings. He is particularly known for his cheerful and bright beach and park scenes. The Canadian-born Prendergast moved with his family to Boston at an early age, and traveled abroad a number of times as an adult. Early in his career, he worked primarily in watercolor, but developed a strong interest in oils during the first decade of the 20th century and also produced a large number of monotypes.
Prendergast's colorful works are characterized by vivid surface patterning and recurring use of curvilinear forms-often the parasols that provide shade to the park visitors and beachgoers populating his compositions. These flat colored shapes and forms remain as bright in the foreground as they are in the background, lending a highly decorative, almost mosaic-like quality to his works. Prendergast also painted still lifes, and occasionally worked with his brother Charles, a painter and framemaker, on other projects, including designs for the ornamental frames that sometimes accompany his work.
Image: Maurice Brazil Prendergast, 1913, Gertrude Käsebier, photographer. Courtesy of the Archives of American Art. (5404)