Ashcan School - Maurice Prendergast part 1

Ending the intermittent theme on the New York "Ashcan School" (see Introduction Oct 2012, William Glackens Oct 2012, Robert Henri Oct-Nov 2012, George Luks Nov 2012, Everett Shinn Nov 2012, George Bellows Dec 2012, John Sloan Dec 2012 and Ernest Lawson Jan 2013) I am featuring the work of Maurice Prendergast. The  series took a lot of research, and will comprise of 41 individual posts at the end. I hope you will have enjoyed seeing them.


Maurice Brazil Prendergast (1858 – 1924) was born in Saint John's, Newfoundland, to a shopkeeper who moved the family to Boston in 1868. He left school after only eight or nine years and went to work for a commercial art firm. He never married and throughout his life was accompanied and supported by his brother Charles, a gifted craftsman and artist in his own right.


According to Charles, Maurice always wanted to be an artist and spent every available moment sketching. In 1892, Maurice travelled to Paris, where he spent three years. Studying first under Gustave Courtois at the Atelier Colorossi, he eventually moved on to the Académie Julian. There he met the Canadian painter James Wilson Morrice, under whose influence he began executing pochades, small sketches on wood panels depicting elegantly dressed women and playful children at the seaside resorts of Dieppe and Saint-Malo. Back in Paris, he developed a sophisticated modern style inspired in large part by the postimpressionists, particularly Pierre Bonnard and Edouard Vuillard.

In 1895, home from abroad, Prendergast joined his brother in Winchester, Massachusetts. Working in watercolour, oil, and monotype, he continued to focus on men, women, and children at leisure, strolling in parks, on the beach, or travelling the city streets. In 1898 he went to Venice and returned a year later with a series of watercolours of the city. In 1900 the Macbeth Galleries in New York mounted an exhibition of his work. 

In 1907 he returned to France, where he was profoundly influenced by Cézanne and the Fauves. Integrating these new influences into his work, Prendergast painted more forceful works of art, with startling bright colours and staccato brushstrokes. As one of The Eight, Prendergast was sharply criticized for his more abstract and brightly coloured style. 

Following another trip to Venice, in 1911 - 1912, Prendergast returned to New York to select works for and participate in the Armory Show of 1913. A year later, he and Charles moved to New York. In 1915, he was given an exhibition at the Carroll Galleries. Although the critical reception of his work remained mixed, he was able to attract a number of important patrons, among them John Quinn, Lillie B. Bliss, and Dr. Albert Barnes.

During the final years of his career, Prendergast spent his summers sketching in New England and his winters painting in New York. In 1921, the Brummer Gallery in New York held a small retrospective exhibition of his work. By 1923, Prendergast was in frail health, and he died a year later at age sixty-five.

This is part 1 of a 7-part post on the works of Maurice Prendergast:

1888 Portrait of Maurice Prendergast's Father oil on canvas 39.7 x 35.6 cm

c1891-94 The Red Cape monotype on paper 40 x 27.9 cm

1891 Picking Flowers watercolour 17.8 x 12.7 cm

1892 La Porte San Denis watercolour 35.6 x 25.4 cm

1892 Low Tide, Afternoon, Treport pencil & watercolour 32.4 x 21.3 cm

1892 Treport Beach pencil & watercolour 21.9 x 30.8 cm

1892-4 Evening Shower, Paris oil on panel 31.7 x 47 cm

1892-94 Along the Seine oil on canvas 33 x 24.1 cm

c1892-94 Dieppe oil on canvas 12.2 x 9.5 cm

c1892-94 Figures on the Beach pencil & watercolour 25.4 x 17.8 cm

c1892-94 Sunday Morning, Paris oil on panel 23.8 x 15.6 cm

1893-94 Can-Can Dancer pencil & watercolour 21.6 x 14 cm

1893-94 Ladies Seated on a Bench pencil & watercolour 18.8 x 16.2 cm

1893 Paris Boulevard in the Rain pencil & watercolour 13 x 25.4 cm

1893-94 Ladies in the Rain pencil & watercolour 34.3 x 14.6 cm

c1893-94 In the Park pencil, ink & watercolour 27.3 x 11.4 cm

c1893-94 Side Show pencil & watercolour 26.7 x 19 cm

c1893-94 The Dancers pencil & watercolour 27.9 x 21 cm

c1893-94 Two Women in a Park pencil & watercolour 40 x 20.3 cm

1894 Small Fishing Boats, Treport, France watercolour 22.9 x 31.1 cm

1895 Figures on the Grass pencil & watercolour 24.4 x 34.3 cm

1895-7 Low Tide oil on panel 34.3 x 45.7 cm

c1895-1900 Horseback Riders monotylpe & pencil on paper 23.2 x 31.1 cm

1895 Three Little Girls in Red monotype 14.3 x 15.2 cm

c1895-7 Lady with a Red Sash oil on canvas 61 x 21 cm

c1895-97 City Point Bridge pencil, gouache & watercolour 48.6 x 38.7 cm

c1895-96 Sunset, Boston pastel on paper 50.8 x 27.9

c1895-97 Evening on a Pleasure Boat oil on canvas 14 x 22 cm

c1895-97 Jumping Rope monotype on paper 17.1 x 13.3 cm

c1895-97 The Race monotype on paper 20 x 22.9 cm

c1895-97 South Boston Pier pencil & watercolour 12.2 x 19.1

c1895 Charles Street, Boston pencil & watercolour 36.5 x 27.9 cm

c1895-97 The Pretty Ships oil on panel 34.9 x 34.3 cm

c1895 Circus Band monotype & pencil 31.3 x 23.8 cm

c1895 The Ocean Palace monotype 19 x 15.9 cm

c1895 Woman on Ship Deck, Looking out to Sea monotype on paper 15.9 x 10.5 cm

1896 Nantasket Beach  pencil & watercolour 33.7 x 51.4 cm

1896 Children on a Raft pencil & watercolour 45.7 x 33.3 cm

1896 At the Park pencil & watercolour 35.6 x 52.7 cm

1896 Revere Beach pencil & watercolour 13.6 x 9.9 cm

1896 Revere Beach watercolour 25.4 x 35.6 cm

1896 Revere Beach pencil & watercolour 35.6 x 25.4 cm

1896 South Boston Pier pencil & watercolour 46.4 x 35.6 cm

1896 Summer Visitors pencil & watercolour 48.3 x 38.1 cm

c1896-7 Children at the Beach 35.6 x 25.4 cm

c1896-7 Float at Low Tide, Revere Beach 33.6 x 23.5 cm

c1896-97 Early Beach pencil & watercolour 34.3 x 31.1 cm

1896-97 Excursionists, Nahant pencil, watercolour & gouache 49.5 x 36 cm