Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Prendergast Actually Painted Some Portraits

Alas, I've never been a fan of the art of Maurice Prendergast (1859-1924). That's because I've never liked broken-color Impressionist style paintings. I probably never will like that style. And I can't easily explain why I don't like it; something visceral, I suppose. Try not to hold it against me.

As for Prendergast, some biographical information can be found here and here.

Being a committed broken-color guy, he usually painted outdoor scenes, though not many still lifes. Interestingly, he often included small, full-length human figures in his landscape works, usually with many such figures in a single painting.

Another genre he tended to avoid was portraiture. That's not surprising because painters using broken-color or small-areas-of-flat-color styles as Prendergast did, probably found that such styles weren't compatible with portraiture. Nevertheless, he did paint a few portraits in the years immediately after he moved to New York City. I located three such images on the internet, and here they are:


Portrait of a Young Girl - c.1913

Portrait of a Young Girl with Flowers - c.1910-13

Miss Edith King - c.1913

Like many American Impressionists, Prendergast retained a certain amount of delineation and structure in his paintings. This is particularly noticeable in the portraits shown above, because if an artist's intent when making a portrait is to actually portray, then the Impressionistic approach has to be dialed back, as they say.

The images above strike me as being satisfactory Impressionist style portraits, but not very satisfactory from the standpoint of pure portraiture.


Stephanie Berry said...

Does this mean you're not a fan of Van Gogh?

Donald Pittenger said...

Stephanie -- Sorry for the delay replying, but I'm traveling.

As for Van Gogh ... No, I don't care much for his work. Never did, actually.