Gondolas, Venice

Maurice Prendergast, American, 1858-1924
Gondolas, Venice
c. 1899-99
Watercolor and ink wash on paper
Private Collection


Festa del Redentore

Maurice Prendergast, American, 1858-1924
Festa del Redentore
c. 1899
Watercolor and pencil on paper
Williams College Museum of Art, Gift of Mrs. Charles Prendergast, 91.18.5

Prendergast in Italy, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston


'Prendergast in Italy' is the first exhibition devoted entirely to the Italian watercolors, monotypes, and oil paintings by the American modern artist Maurice Prendergast
February 14 - May 9, 2010

Source: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Featuring more than 60 views of Venice, Rome, Siena, and Capri, Prendergast in Italy also includes the artist´s personal sketchbooks, letters, photographs, and guidebooks from his two trips to Italy, in 1898 and 1911. Prendergast was born in St. John´s Newfoundland (Canada) and moved to Boston at age ten, where he was working as a commercial artist by 1886. He developed his mature style, however, during early trips abroad to France (1891-1895) and Italy (1898-99). Renowned for his paintings full of joie de vivre, the view of Italy that Prendergast presents was informed by European trends filtered through the eyes of an American artist and tourist encountering Venice for the first time. This exhibition demonstrates the advances of abstract color and form that put Prendergast on the cutting edge of American modernism.

"The Williams College Museum of Art has the largest collection of Prendergast works in the world, and coupled with loans from 50 other institutions, this is an unparalleled opportunity to see such a complete collection of the artist´s output from his trips to Italy on view here in Houston," stated Peter C. Marzio, MFAH director. "Museum guests can traverse the colorful canals of Prendergast´s Venice, complimented by views of the sea presented by John Singer Sargent in Sargent and the Sea."

"Venice provided a spectacle of color and pattern that Prendergast transformed into stunning and bold works, all of which catapulted him into the front ranks of American artists," added Emily Ballew Neff, MFAH curator of American Painting and Sculpture. "Prendergast in Italy will show the enduring place Prendergast holds in American art as a technically superb watercolorist, and one whose buoyant surfaces and rhythmic patterns are are simply a joy to behold."

Since the majority of the works in Prendergast in Italy are of Venice, the armchair traveler will come away from this exhibition with a vivid sense of that unique city, its canals, and famous monuments as seen through the eyes of an American on the forefront of 20th-century modernism. Five paintings are displayed so that both sides of the works are visible. These double-sided watercolors, in addition to many sketches, unfinished works, and archival materials, provide a special glimpse into the artist´s creative process. A large group of color monotypes showcases Prendergast´s daring approach and experimentation with the medium.

Prendergast in Italy highlights a selection of the collection of over 400 works by artist-brothers Maurice and Charles Prendergast in the Williams College Museum of Art, the largest collection in the world. In addition to artworks from WCMA and the Terra Foundation for American Art, the exhibition features loans from over 50 institutions and private collections in the United States, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.


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