Charles Prendergast (1863-1948)
Birthday Cards, n.d.
Watercolor and pencil on paper
Williams College Museum of Art, Gift of Mrs. Charles Prendergast, 85.22.14, 15,16, and 17
Like many artists, Charles often decorated letters and made special greeting cards by hand. Following his marriage to Eugénie Van Kemmel, Charles often designed birthday cards for his “Dear Genie.” In one instance he depicts the French and American flags—a reference to the union of their nationalities.
Eugénie played a pivotal role in nurturing the legacies of Maurice and Charles’s careers. Following Maurice’s death in 1925, Charles was devastated by the loss of his brother, best friend, business partner, and collaborator. While in mourning, he traveled to Europe, where he met Eugénie, who worked at a hotel in Paris. Charles and Eugénie married in New York in May 1925 and eventually settled in Westport, Connecticut. After Charles died in 1948, Eugénie stewarded the estates of both brothers, promoting the exhibition and scholarship of their works. In 1983, she established the Prendergast catalogue raisonné project with the Williams College Museum of Art in Williamstown, Massachusetts, which today holds the largest archive of Prendergast works worldwide.