Maurice Prendergast

Maurice Prendergast

Style: American Impressionism, Post-Impressionism

Lived: October 27, 1861 - February 1, 1924 (19th - 20th century)

Nationality: USA


Maurice Brazil Prendergast was born on October 27, 1861 in in St. John's, Newfoundland (USA). When he was three years old, the family moved to Boston. Because they were not very rich, Maurice started working after his basic education at age 14, but he started sketching landscapes and cattle as well. In 1886 he and his brother went to Europe on a cattle boat.

After their return to Boston, Maurice Prendergast realised that we wanted to go to Europe again and started saving some money for the trip. Finally in 1890 he managed to travel to Paris where he studied at the Colarossi Academy and the Academie Julien for a period of three years.


In the late 19th century Impressionism had established itself as leading art movement in Paris. However there was also the upcoming popularity of symbolism and post-impressionism. Prendergast enthousiastically absorbed the post-impressionist style and their basic doctrine that a painting, before representing anything, should be perceived as a flat surface covered with ordered patches of color. Therefore Maurice Prendergast's artistic style is hard to categorise and it finds itself somewhere in between (American) Impressionism and Post-Impressionism.

In 1900 Prendergast returned to the USA, where he became a member of The Eight, a group of artists led by Robert Henri. The group had an influential exhibition in 1908; they broke with the academic tradition that reigned at the time and proposed that painting be connected to everyday life.

In 1914 he moved to New York City, where he spent the remainder of his life. His work is characterized by rich, powerful color applied in dots and in short brushstrokes. Many of his subjects are landscapes with figures, as for example, Central Park (1901, Whitney Museum, New York City). A number are of the seashore. Others include Boston street scenes and sketches of Neapolitan and Venetian life.


Maurice Prendergast died February 1, 1924.

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