Classroom Use of the Art Print

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Maurice Prendergast (American; 1858-1924). New England Harbor, ca. 1919-23. Oil on canvas; 24" x 28". Cincinnati Art Museum, The Edwin and Virginia Irwin Memorial.


* Maurice Prendergast was influenced by many different kinds of art and yet he developed his own unique style of painting. To help understand these influences, students should look at the work of the most advanced French artists between about 1880 and 1910. Some of the names used by these artists were: Impressionists, Post-Impressionists and Fauves.

* Some art critics have described this artist's work as "childlike" and "simple." Other critics have described it as "inventive" and "pure decoration." Have students look at this reproduction and have them describe what they think about it.

* Some artists isolate themselves from other people, while others become friends with artists who think like they do. Maurice Prendergast is one of those who mixed with other forward-looking artists of the time.

Some of the artists with whom he was most friendly were Robert Henri, William Glackens, George Luks, John Sloan and Arthur B. Davies. If students look at the work of these artists, it may help them understand the kind of art that was thought to be most progressive 100 years ago in New York.


* From looking at this reproduction--and hopefully other paintings by Prendergast--students will see that he didn't make a pencil drawing first and then paint it. He used his brush very freely; and if he wanted to include lines he painted them with a brush.

Students should be encouraged to try painting in this way themselves. There is nothing wrong in painting carefully, but they should also try other ways of working. To try painting freely will also help develop a better understanding of this artist's style of painting.

* Students may be asked to look at a photograph that shows different kinds of objects, such as people, buildings, trees and hills. Using the photograph as a guide, ask them to draw their own picture just using outlines.

Encourage them to paint the picture with colors they find interesting that make an attractive pattern when the picture is finished rather than being a copy of the shading or colors in the photograph.

The photographs and original paintings can be displayed on the wall and students can be asked to make their own comments about the results.

* If students have never used paint thickly, then this painting makes a good model for a beginning. The best kind of school paint to use for this is tempera mixed to the thickness of heavy cream.

Students may paint a copy of the whole of this reproduction or just paint a part of it using the thick color and the same dabbing method used by Prendergast. …