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Maurice Prendergast

Maurice Prendergast was a Post-Impressionist painter noted for his abstract scenes of men, women and children in leisure. Born in St. John’s in Newfoundland in 1858, Prendergast’s family moved to Boston when he was ten. He left school after a few years to work for a commercial art firm, thus beginning his exposure to art. In 1891, Prendergast travelled to Europe to study under Gustave Courtois (1853-1923) at the Atelier Colorossi and then attended the Académie Julian in Paris under James Wilson Morris (1865-1924). While in Paris, he developed a sophisticated post-impressionist style with broad brush strokes and bright colors, becoming abstract in appearance. After four years, he returned to Boston where he shared a studio with his brother, Charles and began exhibiting watercolors and oils throughout Boston and New York. In 1907, he returned to France where, under the influence of Paul Cézanne’s (1839–1906), he developed a preference for bright hues and sharp brushstrokes becoming Prendergast’s favored style. In 1914, he settled in New York and created a following of prominent patrons for himself despite the mixed reviews on his brightly colored scenes. During his time in Boston in his late 40’s, he associated himself with The Eight, a group of painters who advocated for a more progressive approach to art, but even these paintings were sharply criticized for their extreme abstract qualities. Later in his life, Prendergast’s art adopted a cheerful tone, harmonizing a variety of tones and painting techniques with the style being the main focus. During the last few years of his life, he continued sketching and painting throughout the Northeastern United States until poor health prevented him from continuing. Maurice Prendergast passed away in 1924 at the age of sixty-five.

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