Autumn, or Autumn Festival, as Duncan Phillips called it, is a work of the artist’s mature period. An animated scene painted with broad, expressive strokes in rich tones highlighted with reds; it illustrates Prendergast’s superb command of color. The subject is one favored by Prendergast at this time: a crowd of people in leisurely activity before a forested landscape. The crowd and mass of trees in Autumn Festival dominate the foreground of the composition and form a screen, obscuring the background view. Autumn Festival is characteristic of Prendergast’s later work in its freedom of execution and densely packed, tapestry-like surface.
Autumn Festival, was one of Duncan Phillips's favorite Prendergast paintings, for he frequently wrote not only about its decorative beauty but also the spiritual response it evoked in him, saying: “…in…Autumn Festival, the colors have a translucent splendor like stained glass.’’ He went on to speak of this painting, calling it:
…an improvisation, truly pagan,…on the russets, purples and orange tones of autumn orchestrated with inexpressibly gorgeous peacock blues and greens—which has somehow a grave dignity in the design and spacing of the abstract figures which makes me think of august church decorations of the best periods…After looking at this Autumn Festival for long and dreamful moments, I confess that I have fallen under a spell and experienced ecstasy more medieval than modern.