“Central Park, New York,” 1901

Maurice Prendergast’s mosaic-like watercolor captures a lovely, leisurely day of carriage riding and strolling. And huge, puffy turn-of-the-century hats.

 
Canadian-born Prendergast was a member of The Eight, a group of artists who opposed the rigidity of the American art world at the time.

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7 Responses to ““Central Park, New York,” 1901”

  1. Josie Says:

    Good one. I love all the people sitting on the benches. When I look closely at those puffy things, it appears to me that they are umbrellas, not hats. Could be wrong.

  2. Mason Says:

    “Prendergast was a member of The Eight, a group of artists who opposed the rigidity of the American art world at the time.”

    That’s an interesting note because it gives us a larger context for this painting. At this point in history (and still to a degree) many artists and low-income New Yorker’s were financially and socially barred from the myriad of cultural events at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Central Park, in which the museum sits. One core activity they could not attend were the near weekly carriage parades through the park put on by the growing population of wealthy Upper East Side families. I love that Prendergast’s perspective on this activity is from behind the benches, not from the benches. He’s showing us the view of the outsider. The lowly family who couldn’t partake but still stands to catch whatever glimpse they can secure from a distance. This painting is an echo of past alienation, one that still stings today.

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    Great perspective, thanks.
    As for whether the puffy things are umbrellas or hats, I looked closely for a long time…I think they’re hats because it looks like the women wearing them aren’t holding anything. But there are definitely two umbrellas on women on the right.

  4. Old Georgetowner Says:

    Prendergast’s perspective on this activity is from behind the benches, not from the benches. He’s showing us the view of the outsider. The lowly family who couldn’t partake but still stands to catch whatever glimpse they can secure from a distance.

    Umm, if the view was “from the benches”, you couldn’t see the benches, could you? Or the watchers. And you’d be too low.

    Sometimes a POV is just a place to stand.

  5. Kaz Says:

    Several of the ‘puffy things’ are umbrellas (or parasols). You can see in a few places where the woman is wearing a hat, then there’s a red puff over or behind her head. I think the fact that they don’t look like they’re holding anything is more because of the rather vague nature of the style of painting.

    The woman in the lower right (not in the corner, though), wearing the blue dress and with the blue – thing – on/over her head… I *think* it is meant to be a parasol. I base this only on the fact that the women’s hats are not quite as … showy? as this would be if it were a hat. Like everyone showed up in the most up-to-date millinery, except for the one who wore all her feathers.

    Then again, what do I know? I was born 65 years after this scene!

  6. Mason Says:

    “Sometimes a POV is just a place to stand.”

    Sometimes a POV is where you’re allowed to stand.

  7. Swingset and sandbox on the East River in 1901 | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] School painter Maurice Prendergast was known for his bold, colorful depictions of leisure and play in European and American cities in the late 19th and early 20th […]

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