Maurice Brazil Prendergast ( American, 1858 - 1924 )
This bright and joyful scene of children playing on a carousel is one of only four paintings that the American artist Maurice Prendergast dedicated to this theme. With its compartmentalized areas of muted color and line, Merry-Go-Round is a cross between naturalist representation and decorative abstraction. Prendergast developed this unique style in the 1890s during two extensive trips to Europe. While there, he took inspiration from the flat, ornamental aesthetic of the Nabis in France, in addition to the colorful designs of Italian stained-glass windows. In spite of these international influences, Prendergast’s subjects were drawn from New York and Boston, where he lived most of life. This scene may in fact represent a carousel that was located along Paul Revere Beach Boulevard (originally Railroad Avenue) just north of Boston. This painting’s handsome frame is thought to have been made by the artist’s brother, Charles Prendergast, a painter and renowned designer of modern American frames.