Maurice Brazil Prendergast Biography

Maurice Brazil Prendergast

Maurice Brazil Prendergast (1858-1924) was an American Post-Impressionist painter known for his vibrant and colorful depictions of leisurely scenes set on beaches and in parks. Born in St. John's, Newfoundland, Prendergast was the son of a subarctic trading post owner who failed to make a living. The family moved to Boston, where Prendergast was apprenticed to a commercial artist at the age of 14. This early training conditioned him to the brightly colored, flat patterning effects that characterized his mature work.

Prendergast studied in Paris from 1891 to 1895, where he was influenced by the works of Édouard Vuillard, Pierre Bonnard, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. He also met the Canadian painter James Morrice, who introduced him to English avant-garde artists Walter Sickert and Aubrey Beardsley. Prendergast's aesthetic course was set, and he developed a highly personal style characterized by boldly contrasting, jewel-like colors and flattened, pattern-like forms rhythmically arranged on a canvas.

Prendergast's work is characterized by its use of bright, unmodulated colors and its ability to capture the beauty of everyday life. He was a member of the group known as "The Eight" and was known for his bold and flat color palette, as well as his use of pattern-like forms. Prendergast's paintings have been aptly described as tapestry-like or resembling mosaics.

In 1907, Prendergast was invited to exhibit with the Eight, colleagues of Robert Henri and exponents of the Ashcan school. Prendergast and the romantic symbolist Arthur B. Davies seem oddly mismatched to these urban realists, but all were united in an effort to stir the American art scene out of its conservative lethargy.

In 1913, Prendergast was invited to participate in the famed Armory Show, which was largely arranged by his friend Davies. Not surprisingly, Prendergast's brilliantly unorthodox offerings were decried as resembling "an explosion in a paint factory." On the same occasion Marcel Duchamp's *Nude Descending a Staircase*(1912) was similarly deplored as "an explosion in a shingle factory," suggesting either a failure of critical imagination or a case of collegial plagiarism. But of the Americans represented there, Prendergast's works were the most thoroughly modern and postimpressionist.