In the latter half of the 19th century, the acknowledged center of Western civilization was Paris, so naturally the ambitious young American painter Maurice Brazil Prendergast (1858-1924) wanted to go there. Prendergast was from Boston (JAMA cover, October 1, 2008), which had its own art community, but like other American painters of the late 19th century, such as James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Childe Hassam, and Mary Cassatt, he wanted to experience the vast museum collections and world-class art schools that Paris had to offer. So he worked his passage to France on a trans-Atlantic cargo ship and enrolled in art school. In Paris he became acquainted with the work of artists such as Whistler, Charles Conder, Édouard Vuillard, and Pierre Bonnard, who were experimenting with new modes of expression in painting. Prendergast was a careful observer and incorporated the discoveries of other innovators into his own work.