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Maurice Brazil Prendergast (1859-1924)
Fiesta-Venice-S. Pietro in Volta, ca. 1898-1899
Watercolor and pencil paper
Williams College Museum of Art, Gift of Mrs. Charles Prendergast, 86.18.76

Venetian processions and festivals are otherworldly spectacles but also a normal part of modern city life. Taking place outdoors, they involve special dress; the carrying of banners, statues, and other church symbols; as well as the decoration of buildings, streets, and canals. Fiesta-Venice-S. Pietro in Volta depicts the small town of San Pietro in Volta, located in an outlying area of the Lido, close to Venice. The artist’s inscription on the lower left indicates that the work captures “The day before a festa,” while the abundance of colorful banners coveys the ambiance of joyous preparations.

According to a review in the Evening Transcript, Maurice Prendergast was “born to paint fêtes, and he carries a whole Fourth of July in his color box. What an irresistible spirit of happy holiday activity pervades his scintillating scenes! Flags fluttering, waves rippling, sun shining over all, brilliantly dressed throngs of men, women, and children, all moving, here and there, in a veritable kaleidoscope of life!”

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