Maurice Brazil Prendergast was an American painter of the turning of the XXIst century of Post-Impressionism, who worked mostly in oil, watercolor, and monotype. Born in 1858, at his family's' subarctic trading post in St. John, Newfoundland, which was then a colony in British North America. Soon his family moved to Boston, where he grew up, at the South End. In his youth, he was taken as an apprentice by a commercial artist, which surely influenced his mature work, regarding his brightly colored, flat pattern effects.
From 1981 to 1985, Prendergast studied in Paris, at the Académie Colarossi, and the Académie Julian, under the teachings of Gustave Courtois and Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant. In Paris, he made acquaintances like the Canadian painter James Morrice, avant-garde British artists like Walter Sickert and Aubrey Beardsley, and later, Édouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard, which firmly placed him in the Post-Impressionist field. He studied the art of Vincent van Gogh and Georges Seurat. He is regarded as one of the Americans that understood and utilized an expressive use of form and color like Paul Cézanne.
Leaving Paris and returning to Boston, in 1985, Prendergast worked mainly in watercolor and monotyping. Three years later, he made a trip to Venice, which exposed him to Vittore Carpaccio’s genre scenes, encouraging him to experiment with more complex and rhythmic arrangements. This was the propeller to one of his most appreciated work today, his watercolors of Venice. Back in the US, he had major exhibitions in 1900, at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Macbeth Galleries, in New York, earning him critical acclaim. He became friends with the painters William Glackens, Robert Henri and John Sloan, at an exhibition at the National Arts Club, in 1904. Later, in 1908, he exhibited with them, along with George Luks, Everett Shinn, and Arthur B. Davies, at the Macbeth Galleries. This group of artists became a collective known as The Eight.
Although his poor health hindered his work, Prendergast continued showing in major exhibitions, such as the International Exhibition of Modern Art in 1913, showing many examples of his stylistic maturity, and also, being seen in company with the most experimental painters of Fauvism and Post-Impressionism, favored his critical reception. Also, Fifty at Montross was a show he participated in at the Montross Gallery in 1916. The exhibition also included works of Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Vincent van Gogh, and Georges Seurat. Although he was critically acclaimed, the Metropolitan Museum declined to host a retrospective exhibition on Prendergast’s memory, after his death, claiming his work was still too advanced and demanding for the Metropolitan’s trustees.
Maurice Brazil Prendergast died in February 1, 1924, at age 65.