Maurice Brazil Prendergast was born in Saint John's, Newfoundland, to a shopkeeper who moved the family to Boston in 1868. He left school after only eight or nine years and went to work for a commercial art firm. He never married and throughout his life was accompanied and supported by his brother Charles, a gifted craftsman and artist in his own right. According to Charles, Maurice always wanted to be an artist and spent every available moment sketching.
In 1907, Prendergast returned to France, where he was profoundly influenced by Cezanne and the Fauves. Integrating these new influences into his work, Prendergast painted more forceful works of art, with startling bright colors and staccato brushstrokes. Prendergast was sharply criticized for his more abstract and brightly colored style.