Though a member of "The Eight", whose common goal of depicting daily urban life in a realistic manner did not exactly suit the delicate stylings of painter Maurice Prendergast's he is none the less seen as one of America's premier modern artists. He worked in oil, watercolor and monotype prints, and his style was frequently compared to mosaic work.
He had studied with a commercial artist in Boston before traveling to Paris where he enrolled at the Academies Colarossi and Julian. While in the city he made friends with several artists whose theories and work would influence his later paintings, including Aubrey Beardsley and Walter Sickert, both members of England's avant garde.
Prendergast's work would always fall into a Post-Impressionist style, though he employed a jewel-like palette and unique manner of form and application of color. His most common subject matter was people at leisure, or in urban settings. Though known for his watercolors, later in his life he composed works in oil and made more than two hundred monotype prints between 1892 and 1905.
He exhibited frequently and was included among those in the Armory Show of 1913, which was the first organized display of modern art in America. Though he did participate in the independent exhibitions of The Eight he also belonged to such establishment institutions as the Society of American Artists and the New York Water Color Club. At the time of his death he was one of the most widely accepted of the modernists and his paintings were generally well known, especially his later landscapes of New England and Italy.
His works are in most of the major museums of the United States, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh and the Los Angeles County Museum among dozens of others.