Campo San Cassiano

Maurice Brazil Prendergast
1898–1899
Boca Raton Museum of Art

Maurice Prendergast’s artwork showed an individuality and originality through a use of color and abstract form.

Influenced by the French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, he adopted their use of dabs of paint but made them bolder in color and shape, more aligned with the appearance of overall-patterning, as if he was piecing together chips of mosaic glass. In his paintings colors, whether in oil or watercolor, are laid one over another, giving his works an extraordinary richness and depth. Such stylistic experimentation truly set him apart from other artists at the turn of the century. Prendergast made two extended trips to Italy during his career, in 1898-99 and 1911-12, and captured, mostly in watercolor, both the picturesque tourist attractions and out-of-the-way corners. This depiction of a slightly less-trafficked square dates from the artist’s first trip and is one of 144 known works, not including sketchbooks, created during this sojourn.

He is often referred to as an American Impressionist, primarily for his choice of scenes: the leisurely pleasures of a summer's day, a park, a beach, or a parade in a city street and his concentration on color and form as opposed to depth and space. However he was also a member of The Eight and a part of the Ashcan School Group, a group that challenged the Impressionists and portrayed the seamy side of modern life. For all of his pictorial innovations, Prendergast was largely self-taught; he left school after only eight or nine years and went to work for a commercial art firm for much of his young adult life before going to Paris for several years in his early 30s.

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Maurice Brazil Prendergast's Campeo San Cassiano

Maurice Brazil Prendergast, Campo San Cassiano, about 1898–1899, Watercolor on paper. Acquired in 1989; Gift of the Dr. and Mrs. John J. Mayers Collection.