Beach Scene


Maurice Brazil Prendergast ( American, 1858 - 1924 )

c. 1907–1910
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General Description

While the jewel-like colors and simplified forms may make this beach seem otherworldly, the painting is rooted in one of Maurice Brazil Prendergast's favorite places, the Massachusetts coast. Although an American scene, the choice of subject matter and abstract style are due to the influence of European modernism, which Prendergast absorbed through several years' study in Paris, as well as on trips to Italy.

Throughout his career, Pendergast worked in a style marked by a sparkling picture surface and pure color. As shown in Beach Scene, he discarded conventional perspective by uniting foreground and middle ground. His broad, unblended paint application amplifies flatness rather than illusionistic depth.

This work dates from the period when Prendergast began to exhibit with the Eight, a group of American artists who were dissatisfied with official juried exhibitions and decided to mount their own independent shows. He also participated in the landmark 1913 Armory Show, the exhibition that first exposed mass American artists and viewers to modernism.

Adapted from

  • William Keyse Rudolph, DMA Label Copy (1962.23), November 2005.

  • Anne Bromberg, DMA research essay, 1987, Education files.