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Seeing America

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Park by the Sea

17 3/8 x 22 3/8 in. (44.1 x 56.8 cm)

Maurice Prendergast
United States (St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada, 1858 - 1924, New York, NY)

Object Type: Watercolor
Medium and Support: Watercolor with graphite on paper
Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Charles Prendergast
Accession Number: 1963.28
Link to this object
Location: Not currently on view

Throughout his life, Maurice Prendergast found delight and inspiration in the pleasant, sun-filled parks and beaches along the New England shore. He recalled happy moments there in brilliant watercolors, so remarkable in their energy and hue that they were likened, in Prendergast's day, to "an explosion in a color factory."

Trained as a theater poster painter, Prendergast became extraordinarily facile in watercolor, and he employed it throughout his career. The fluid medium was especially appropriate to Prendergast's expressions of the momentary, as the dance of light across the landscape and the rhythmic movements of bathers and picnickers could be suggested in quick dashes of luminous color.

Under the influence of French post-impressionistic painting, Prendergast's watercolors became increasingly abstract. This late example is typical in its brevity. The design is realized through a loose pattern of strong primary and secondary colors set against the bright white ground. Much of the sheet has been left to create scattered highlights and to heighten the viewer's awareness of the work as pure paint on paper.

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Web Links See links to web pages and lesson plans
Seeing America Inservice Materials from a teacher in-service presentation Spring 2008
Seeing America Mentioned & illustrated in chapter on Maurice Prendergast's paintings The Ships, and Woodland Bathers, written by Gwendolyn Owens.

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