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Maurice Prendergast: Return to Boston, 1899

Upon his return to Boston in 1899, Maurice continued to gain increasing artistic recognition. He sent eleven works inspired by his trip to Venice to the Boston Watercolor Club in 1899, and critics were immediately impressed with his skill. He quickly came to the attention of gallery owner William MacBeth, who in 1900 gave him a one-man show. Newspapers offered glowing reports, describing his exhibition as “A cluster of brilliant watercolors which are in point of color and skill quite remarkable.” Maurice was immediately ranked among the important new American artists working in the Northeast and developed new friendships with artists such as William J. Glackens, Robert Henri, George Luks, and John Sloan, who later became known as members of The Eight. In 1904, these artists exhibited together at the National Arts Club in a show that was ecstatically received: Charles de Kay of The New York Times dubbed the artists “Red Hot American Painters.”

During this time, the paintings of French Post-Impressionists, including Georges Seurat, began to reveal a growing influence on Maurice’s work, as evident in his increased focus on light, atmosphere, and crowds by the shore. Seurat’s interest in public and popular entertainment along the banks of the Seine or at the circus was by then accepted subject-matter, and his jewel tone color palette and pointillist technique utilizing short and controlled brush strokes made him a fitting model for Maurice, in particular.

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