In the first decade of the twentieth century, the post-Impressionist painter Maurice Prendergast exhibited with the group The Eight, whose members also included Robert Henri and William Glackens. Whereas those artists focused primarily on everyday city scenes—prompting the moniker the Ashcan School—Prendergast also traveled in Europe, painting idyllic seascapes and landscapes.
This park scene belongs to a series of watercolors and oil paintings made in Paris, and exemplifies Prendergast’s distinctive use of brilliant color, bold patterns, and decisive outlines. It probably depicts an outdoor concert at the Luxembourg Gardens, one of the artist’s favorite spots in Paris. The free, arched blue brushstrokes that shape the figures in the foreground give the scene a sense of energy that continues in the dynamic colors and motion of the trees. Prendegast anchors the composition with the use of the large stone wall in the back of the scene.
Written by Emily Mackey, Class of 2010