Circus Band

Circus Band
Maurice Brazil Prendergast, ca. 1895
color monotype with pencil additions, 31.4 x 23.9 cm
(12 3/8 x 9 3/8 in.), Private Collection

Prendergast Biography

In Maurice Prendergast's only description of how he made monotypes, written in a 1905 letter to his student and friend Esther (Mrs. Oliver) Williams, the artist instructed her: "Paint on copper in oils, wiping parts to be white. When picture suits you, place on it Japanese paper and either press in a press or rub with a spoon till it pleases you. Sometimes the second or third plate is the best." The writer Van Wyck Brooks related an account of Prendergast's procedure, told to him by the artist's brother, Charles:

"He could not afford a regular press and his quarters in Huntington Avenue were so cramped that he had no room for a work-bench. So he made his monotypes on the floor, using a large spoon to rub the back of the paper against the plate and thus transfer the paint from the plate to the paper. As he rubbed with the spoon, he would grow more and more excited, lifting up the paper at one of the corners to see what effect the paint was making. The clattering of the big spoon made a great noise on the floor; and soon he and Charles would hear the sound of a broomstick, pounding on the ceiling below. That meant the end of the day's work."

The Bathers >>

Introduction | The Monotype Process Video | Index | Collections & Exhibitions