Maurice Brazil Prendergast (1859-1924)
Maurice Brazil Prendergast (1859-1924)

Festival, Venice

Maurice Brazil Prendergast (1859-1924)
Festival, Venice
signed 'Maurice Prendergast' (lower right)
watercolor and pencil on paper
16 7/8 x 12 1/8 in. (42.9 x 30.8 cm.)
Executed circa 1899.
[With]Kraushaar Galleries, New York.
Charles T. Brooks, acquired from the above, 1926.
[With]Kraushaar Galleries, New York.
Lucy S. Greene, acquired from the above, 1927.
By descent to the late owner from the above.
C. Clark, N.M. Mathews, G. Owens, Maurice Brazil Prendergast, Charles Prendergast: A Catalogue Raisonné, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1990, p. 390, no. 726, illustrated.
N.M. Mathews, E. Kennedy, Prendergast in Italy, London, 2009, p. 175, no. 726, illustrated.
Cleveland, Ohio, Cleveland Museum of Art, Fourth Exhibition of Watercolors and Pastels, February 17-March 13, 1927, no. 181.
Cleveland, Ohio, Cleveland Museum of Art, Eighth Exhibition of Watercolors and Pastels, November 7-December 7, 1930, no. 1 (as Venice).

Lot Essay

Please note this lot includes the original frame by Charles Prendergast.

Dating from Maurice Prendergast's seminal first trip to Italy from 1898-1900, Festival, Venice depicts the nighttime celebrations on the Giudecca canal for the Festa del Redentore, a feast on the third Sunday of July marking the end of a sixteenth-century plague. Two other watercolors of the subject are known: Festa del Redentore (Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts) and Festival Night, Venice (The Courtauld Gallery, London). Prendergast also executed a glass and ceramic tile version of the scene (Fiesta Grand Canal, Venice, Williams College Museum of Art), the only work of its kind in his oeuvre.

Like the Impressionists in Paris, where he had previously studied from 1891 to 1894, Prendergast took his primary inspiration from daily life, using crowded locales to create paintings both modern in style and in subject. In fact, Prendergast's early watercolors exhibit the development of his personal approach to composition and color. It is in these works that he develops techniques to emphasize a surface pattern of transparent brushstrokes in bold hues, and to use composition to emphasize the inherent flatness of the support.

In Festival, Venice, Prendergast captures the activity of the luminous canal with an evident fascination for the vibrant city and its inhabitants. As gondolas rest casually on the shimmering water, an array of colored lanterns illuminate the magical scene. Contrasting these bright colors of orange, red and yellow, Prendergast paints the water and sky in a deep blue and further accentuates the drama with hints of colorful fireworks midair. With this explorative play of light and color, Festival, Venice is among the finest examples of Prendergast’s unique watercolor style, celebrating the pageantry and modernity of public life at the turn of the century.

More from American Art

View All
View All