Large Boston Public Garden Sketchbook: A Woman Reading a Book

Maurice Brazil Prendergast (American, St. John’s, Newfoundland 1858–1924 New York)
Watercolor over pencil; bordered in pencil and watercolor
14 1/8 x 11 3/16 in. (35.8 x 28.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975
Accession Number:
Not on view
This finely dressed young woman, apparently shaded from sunlight by her crimson parasol, may be reading a Thomas Hardy novel. Several of his books were newly published and popularized in London and New York in the 1890s. Prendergast deftly uses the watercolor medium to illustrate both transparency, as in the leg-of-mutton sleeves of the dress, and opacity, as in the saturated crimson palette of the dahlias in a vase. His ultramarine blue framing lines appear on almost all the watercolors in this sketchbook.
Inscription: Paginated in black ink in upper right corners of rectos.
Annotated on inside front cover in Charles Prendergast's hand in black pencil: 36 (?) Sketches by / Maurice Prendergast; the number 36(?) erased and replaced with 44 in blue pencil; added below that in blue pencil in the same hand: Collection of / Charles Prendergast / Westport. Conn (Collection of Charles Prendergast Westport Conn and Sketches by Maurice Prendergast gone over in blue ballpoint pen and Mrs. added in blue ballpoint pen after Collection of, probably by Eugénie Prendergast).
Charles Prendergast, 1924; his widow, Eugénie Prendergast, 1948; Robert Lehman , 1961.