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Press release


July 25, 2000 - October 22, 2000
Robert Lehman Wing, lower level

Parks and Promenades: Maurice Prendergast in The Metropolitan Museum of Art will present Maurice Prendergast (1858-1924) as painter, watercolorist, draftsman, and book illustrator. Gathered from the holdings of the Metropolitan Museum's Department of American Paintings and Sculpture, Department of Drawings and Prints, and Robert Lehman Collection, the exhibition will be the first to present the Museum's entire collection of Prendergast's work. Cursory pencil drawings of incidental Parisian life; luminous, large-scale watercolors from the Large Boston Public Garden Sketchbook (1895-97); and oil paintings of recreational activities on the Massachusetts shore and in New York's Central Park will chronicle a lifetime of plein-air observation. On view July 25 through October 22, 2000, the exhibition will feature some 70 works, including many of Prendergast's most acclaimed watercolors, which, because of their sensitivity to light, have not been shown together for more than a decade.

The exhibition is made possible by Robert Lehman Foundation, Inc.

Prendergast's highly finished Boston Public Garden watercolors glimpse those intimate details of daily life — mothers and children, idlers and strollers — all fleetingly observed in one of America's iconic 19th-century urban landscapes. Watercolors of the bustling seaside playgrounds near Boston, of the Piazza San Marco and the Rialto bridge in Venice, and of other leisurely locales trace the artist's travels both in the U.S. and abroad. A jubilant spirit also characterizes the exhibition's oil paintings depicting lively vignettes of horses and carriages, promenading ladies with parasols, and children at play.

Prendergast, whose career coincided with Boston's preeminence in printing and publishing in the 1890s, also worked briefly as a commercial illustrator. The exhibition will feature several of the artist's book designs, advertisements, and — his most ambitious publishing enterprise — the provocatively illustrated My Lady Nicotine: A Study in Smoke by J. M. Barrie.

The exhibition is organized by Dita Amory, Assistant Curator, Robert Lehman Collection, in collaboration with H. Barbara Weinberg, the Alice Pratt Brown Curator, and Dana Pilson, Administrative Assistant, Department of American Paintings and Sculpture.

The Robert Lehman Collection catalogue, American Drawings and Watercolors in the Robert Lehman Collection, will be available for purchase in the Museum's bookshops in both hardcover ($90) and paperback editions ($45). Published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the scholarly catalogue fully illustrates the Large Boston Public Garden Sketchbook, acquired by Mr. Lehman from Mrs. Charles Prendergast in 1961.


May 8, 2000

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