Noted for his colorful, decorative scenes of leisure life, Maurice Prendergast was born in 1858 in St. John's, Newfoundland; his family moved to Boston in 1868. From 1891 to 1894, Prendergast lived in Paris, where he studied painting, absorbing influences from contemporary art movements such as post-impressionism. Upon his return to the United States, he resided in Boston, sharing a studio with his brother, Charles, a wood craftsman, decorator, and framemaker. He exhibited watercolors successfully in Boston and also in New York, where he became associated with the group of artists known as The Eight, who championed a more progressive approach to art than was customary at the time. While many of Prendergast's early works are set in New England, throughout his career he used sites in this country and abroad in depicting a vibrant world of crowds enjoying themselves in parks, at the seashore, and in cities. He traveled to Europe many times between 1898 and 1914. The artist's assimilation of the avant-garde styles of Cézanne and Matisse is evident in his use of strokes of vivid colors in intricate, decorative patterns that draw attention to the picture's surface. In his mature paintings, both oil and watercolor, Prendergast presents a pleasant, holiday mood, but his compositions serve primarily as a vehicle for the development of different color harmonies, freely built up in an embroidery of brushstrokes in dots and patches of varied hues.
In 1914 Prendergast settled in New York, where he enjoyed great success with collectors, among them Duncan Phillips. In an essay that appeared in The Arts in March, 1924, a month after the artist's death, Phillips wrote that Prendergast "was…a purist in regard to the…synthesis of the decorative and representative functions of his art …he persisted in reducing his observations of the visible world and his joyous emotions in the presence of nature to a simple but beautifully organized pictorial pattern." The Phillips Collection owns fourteen works by Prendergast: nine oils and five watercolors.