Nancy Mowll Mathews and Edith Schwartz have really helped out the project staff in getting the Prendergast digitization project off to a good start.
Nancy Mowll Mathews (pictured above) oversaw the Prendergast Archive and Study Center at the museum from 1988-2010 as the Eugénie Prendergast Senior Curator of 19th and 20th Century Art. She conducted research and organized exhibitions and publications on the Prendergasts and their era (1850–1950). She is co-author of the Prendergast catalogue raisonné and author of three other books on the subject. She is currently offering her expertise to the project staff in her role as a consultant.
Edith Schwartz (pictured above) has been the Prendergast Assistant since 1998 and is currently working to integrate the Prendergast archival materials into the museum’s database and prep those materials for digitization later in the grant period. Edith works to keep up-to-date records on provenance through the use of auction records. She works to maintain the accuracy of the Prendergast Catalogue Raisonné and assists visiting scholars by arranging for them to view requested art. Edith works with Nancy (in her current role as Prendergast consultant) to determine whether suspected Prendergast works are authentic or not through examinations.
Through the process of unframing the Prendergast works so that the project staff can photograph the versos, many interesting stamps, inscriptions, sketches, and even paintings have reemerged. Edith and Nancy can immediately see important clues about Prendergast works that no one else can immediately know the significance of, such as which person’s handwriting is written on the back of a work and what that person’s relationship was to Charles and Maurice (if it is not their handwriting). Other interesting clues about the works that can be found once the works are unframed include folds, scribbles, and tears. These characteristics can offer insight into the brothers’ artistic processes.
One particular re-discovery was on the back of a watercolor
Central Park, New York by Maurice Brazil Prendergast, ca. 1900-1903 (86.18.69). Pictured below is the front of the watercolor (which also includes pencil and gouache on paper).
Pictured below is the Harbor Scene with Pier on the verso which was reworked by Maurice Prendergast at a later time.
Stick with us as we hope to make connections throughout the project with the help of knowledgeable project staff!