Maurice Brazil Prendergast (1859-1924)
Boston, ca. 1895-1897
Oil on panel
Williams College Museum of Art, Gift of Mrs. Charles Prendergast, 84.16.24
Maurice’s early works were predominantly executed in watercolor; however, in the 1890s, he began to experiment with oil painting, typically on small wood panels. The style of these panels varies—colors range from bright blues to somber greens, and the figures depicted are at times small or may dominate the composition. In the majority of his work, Maurice does not individualize his subjects, but utilizes shorthand brushstrokes to suggest expression, anatomy, and motion. Although garments including hats, dresses, and parasols are shown in detail, class distinctions are generally erased or minimized.
Maurice’s tendency to flatten the composition is apparent even in this early work. Here, a high horizon line gives the appearance of the land and sea tilting upward and flattening horizontally, rather than extending out into a far-off distance, as in more classical, academic approaches to art.