A Day at the Beach with Prendergast

Maurice Prendergast, Revere Beach No. 2, between 1917 and 1918. Watercolor on paper, 13 1/2 x 19 1/2 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC. Gift of Mrs. Charles Prendergast in memory of Duncan and Marjorie Phillips, 1991.

This watercolor by Maurice Prendergast captures the colors and bustle of a summer day at Revere Beach, just five miles north of Boston. Its hard sand shore forms a great crescent for four miles along the blue ocean, sloping away gradually out to sea and creating an ideal bathing beach. The Nahant and Winthrop peninsulas frame the horizon at Revere Beach, which faces Massachusetts Bay. An ad in a 1912 booklet advertising Revere Beach described unsurpassed scenic panoramas viewed from the beach by day or night. From the time it opened to the public in 1896, Revere Beach entertained visitors from all over the world each year from Easter until Labor Day. In the early years they walked, bicycled, or took horse-drawn carriages. It was the place to go to be entertained, have fun or just relax and enjoy a day at the beach.

3 Sunny Moments from the Collection

Knath_The Sun

Karl Knaths, The Sun, 1950. Oil on canvas, 36 x 42 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1950

Dove_Red Sun

Arthur Dove, Red Sun, 1935. Oil on canvas, 20 1/4 x 28 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1935

Phillips_Sun at Twilight

Marjorie Phillips, Sun at Twilight, 1959. Oil on canvas, 39 1/4 x 28 3/4 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1985


Summer: Giverny

Theodore Robinson, Giverny, ca. 1889, Oil on canvas 16 x 22 in.; 40.64 x 55.88 cm.. Acquired 1920.

Painted during his third summer in the village, Giverny (ca. 1889) is a prototypical example of the technique that earned Theodore Robinson his reputation in America. Using a vantage from a hillside overlooking the Seine valley, he adjusted his easel to paint several views of the rural landscape. The strong composition and strict delineation of architectural elements in Giverny hark back to Robinson’s academic training, while the bright violet-and-green palette and deft, summary treatment of the light-dappled foliage betray his exposure to impressionism. In Giverny, Robinson emphasized parallel diagonal lines that radiate to the left of the picture plane and terminate at the horizon line near the top of the canvas. Robinson executed this painting en plein-air—out of doors—capturing the immediate brilliance of the sunlight and warm colors of the country, a technique he no doubt learned from Monet.