PRENDERGAST, Maurice Brazil
(b. 1859, St. John's, Newfoundland, d. 1924, New York)

Along the Shore

Oil on canvas, 59 x 86 cm
Columbia Museum of Art, Columbus

In 1908, the artists group Ash Can School (or The Eight) announced new bearings in 20th-century American art. Its members concentrated on the unappealing sides of modern urban life. Maurice Prendergast and Ernst Lawson tried to reconcile this subject-matter with a lyrical use of colour derived from Impressionism. The modernity of Prendergast's art did not reside in his subject-matter, it came from the priority he assigned technique over subject.

Prendergast studied in Paris and readily absorbed Post-Impressionist aesthetics after 1890. His lively compositions guaranteed him success not long after his return to Boston in 1894. His work, often executed in watercolour, remained distinctively carefree even into the 20th century, at a time when frequent stays in New York had put him in touch with the Ash Can School.