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Image of Sailboats with Figures in Foreground

Maurice Brazil Prendergast (aka Maurice Prendergast)
American, born Canada, 1858–1924

Sailboats with Figures in Foreground

about 1912–1915

Object Type: Painting
10 7/8 in. x 14 5/8 in. (27.62 cm x 37.15 cm)
Medium and Support: Watercolor, graphite, and pastel on paper
Accession Number: 1985.0012.0001

Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Charles Prendergast

Throughout his career, Prendergast repeatedly painted scenes of figures along coasts, as exemplified by "Sailboats with Figures in Foreground". This particular example possibly records one of the artist’s summer trips to the New England coast in the mid-1910s, but characteristic of Prendergast’s late work, the highly abstract style suggests more of a fantastical than actual referent. Also representative of his late paintings, the figures in "Sailboats with Figures in Foreground" are large and close to the surface, contributing to the flatness of the composition, whereas his earlier compositions generally feature smaller figures throughout. The loose, broad brushstrokes are typical of Prendergast’s late style as well, while the fluidity and luminosity of the paint and harmony of color display the artist’s skill as a watercolorist and contribute to the painting’s idyllic, enchanting quality.

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