Though less tightly orchestrated than many of Prendergast’s seaside processionals, this work is typically organized into three horizontal bands of grass, sea, and sky. The friezelike arrangement of the figures is abstractly echoed in coloristic sequences that are, for the most part, applied in broad, rectangular strokes, with the white ground visible around the blocks of color. While the immediate inspiration for this technique can be traced to the French painter Georges Seurat (whose works Prendergast studied on his trips to Europe and also at the Armory Show of 1913 in New York), Prendergast developed an individual style in which the dabs of color are so large they no longer are subservient to the scientific theories of the rendering of light, but are instead components of a colorful mosaic pattern.
This painting was part of a mural project conceived by artists Walt Kuhn (1880–1949), Arthur Davies, and Maurice Prendergast in 1914. The three painters executed a set of four large canvases, which they exhibited in the spring of 1915 in New York City. John Quinn, one of America’s foremost collectors of European avant-garde art and a great admirer of the work of these Americans, purchased all four: this work and its companion piece, Picnic (now in the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh); Kuhn’s Man and Sea Beach (now lost); and Davies’ Dances (DIA acc. no. 27.158).