(American, 1870- 1966)
Maxfield Parrish, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was an American painter and illustrator. As a child, Parrish enjoyed drawing for his own amusement, and his parents greatly encouraged his talents. In 1884, his family brought Parish to Euroupe where they toured Italy, England, and France. During their two years there, Parrish studied at the Paris school of Dr. Kornemann, and had exposure to the architecture and paintings of the old masters.
In 1888, he studied architecture at the Haverford School, Haverford College, until 1890 when he began to suffer from tuberculosis. It was during his sickness that he learned how to mix oils and glazes to produce brilliant colors. In 1892, he decided to improve his skills and went to study at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts until 1895. In this time, he studied under artists, Robert Vonnoh and Thomas Pollock Anshutz. After graduating, Parrish and his father shared a painting studio, in Annisquam, Massachusetts. Then, after a year, he went on to attend the Drexel Institute of Art, Science & Industry.
During his career, his work has been used in publications such as Harper’s Bazaar and Scribner’s Magazine. In 1897, he illustrated the children’s book, Mother Goose in Prose, by L. Frank Baum.
Parrish completed commercial art for various notable projects such as Eugene Field’s Poems of Childhood, 1904, and Arabian Nights, 1909, and also worked on books such as A Wonder Book and Tanglewood Tales, 1910, The Golden Treasury of Songs and Lyrics, 1911, and The Knave of Hearts, 1925. Parrish continued to take commercial art commissions up until the 1920s. In 1916 and 1923, Parrish painted advertisements for D.M. Ferry Seed Company, gaining him public recognition for his work.
His most known painting Daybreak, was done in 1923. The piece features female figures set in a landscape scene. While much of Parrish’s early work was in black and white, this painting, among his other popular work, has undertones of a vivid blue, which later came to be known as Parrish Blue. Parrish began to stray from working on illustrations for children’s books and began to do large murals, when in his forties. Instead of focusing on children’s media, his living began to come from posters and calendars of his work, featuring androgynous nudes, placed in fantastical settings.
Come 1931, Parrish made a shift from figure paintings to landscapes, basing many of his scenes on photographs of his own hand built models. Although his landscape work was not as popular as his earlier work, he still profited greatly from them, and he continued to work this way until he was 91 years old. His career extended over half a century, and in that time, Parrish has produced almost 900 piece of art, and helped to shape what is known as the Golden Age of Illustration and American Visual Arts. The beauty of his illustrations inspired the imaginations of fans and artists alike. Parrish’s work is noted to have influenced artists such as Vasarely, Andy Warhol, and American illustrator, Norman Rockwell who once stated that Parrish was his “idol.”