Maurice Brazil Prendergast (October 10, 1858 - February 1, 1924) was a U.S. post-impressionist watercolor artist who worked in oil, watercolor, and monotype. Technically, he was a member of The Eight, but the delicacy of his compositions and mosaic-like beauty of his designs had little in common with the philosophy of the group.
Prendergast was born in St. John's, a city located in Newfoundland, Canada on October 10, 1858. With the failure of his father's subarctic trading post, the family moved to Boston.There, young Maurice was apprenticed to a commercial artist and at the outset was conditioned to the brightly colored, flat patterning effects that characterized his mature work.
A shy individual, Maurice remained a bachelor throughout his life. He became closely attached to his artist brother Charles, who was a successful frame maker. For three years, Maurice studied in Paris at the Atelier Colarossi and the Académie Julian.
During one of his early stays in Paris, he met the Canadian painter James Morrice, who introduced him to English avant-garde artists Walter Sickert and Aubrey Beardsley, all ardent admirers of James McNeill Whistler. The influences of these men set his future painting style.
He was a member of the 20th century group of American painters called The Eight, whose members included the group's leader Robert Henri, Everett Shinn, John Sloan, Arthur B. Davies, Ernest Lawson, George Luks, and William J. Glackens.
A further acquaintance with Vuillard and Bonnard placed him firmly in the postimpressionist camp. He developed and continued to elaborate a highly personal style, with boldly contrasting, jewel-like colors, and flattened, patternlike forms rhythmically arranged on a canvas. Forms were radically simplified and presented in flat areas of bright, unmodulated color. His paintings have been aptly described as tapestry-like or resembling mosaics. A trip to Venice in 1898 exposed him to the delightful genre scenes of Vittore Carpaccio and encouraged him toward even more complex and rhythmic arrangements. He also became one of the first Americans to espouse the work of Cézanne and to understand and utilize his expressive use of form and color.
Prendergast typically painted people involved in leisurely activities. At the Armory Show in 1913, he displayed seven works that showed his stylistic maturity. Although he predominantly worked in watercolors, he began using oils in his later career. He also produced a large number of monotypes between 1891 and 1902.