MAURICE BRAZIL PRENDERGAST was 64 years old and already on his deathbed when he learned one day in 1923 that Washington, D.C.'s Corcoran Gallery had given its Bronze Medal to one of his paintings. It was just about the only prize that had ever come his way, and the old man could not help being amused. "Well," he said, "I am glad they've found out I'm not crazy, anyhow." For today's gallerygoer the wonder is more likely to be that so gentle and genteel a painter (see color) could ever have been considered a...

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