Artist
Maxfield Parrish
American painter and illustrator

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Maxfield Parrish
American painter and illustrator
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Birth Date

1870

Death Date

1966

ldewey's picture

Contributor

Maxfield Parrish was the master of androgyny.

Parrish came from a family of artists, so it comes as no surprise that he hit the genetic jackpot with his artistic talents. He also seems to have picked up the stereotypical artistic leanings towards eccentricity, especially in his personal relationships-- Maxfield lived with both his wife AND his mistress...in the same house. And in the 19th century, no less.

Maxfield’s career took off in 1897 when he was commissioned to illustrate L. Frank Baum’s Mother Goose. He soon became a well-respected fave among advertisers, illustrating for everyone from cutlery companies to Colgate. But despite the minty fresh appeal, Parrish quickly tired of this sort of commercial work and began specializing in androgynous nudes placed within fantasy worlds. The general public loved this stuff and purchased calendars and posters of Maxfield’s work en masse. 

In 1931, Parrish announced to the Associated Press that he was “done with girls on rocks” and began to shift towards illustrating landscapes. These were considerably less popular than his nudes (go figure) but he stuck to his guns and still managed to make a tidy profit. Of course, when Norman Rockwell calls you his idol you can pretty much paint whatever you want. 

But Rockwell wasn’t his only big-shot admirer-- the prices for Maxfield’s original paintings have recently skyrocketed as collectors swarm to get a piece of the Parrish pie. His most highly acclaimed work, Daybreak, sold for a whopping $7.6 million in 2006. This one featured a landscape AND an androgynous nude… the best of both worlds!

ldare's picture

Sr. Editor

Parrish is a popular guy.

Commissioned to illustrate "Wizard of Oz" author L. Frank Baum's "Mother Goose in Prose" (1897). The books he did illustrations for are now highly sought after by collectors.

Parrish's most famous piece is privately owned (previously by Mel Gibson's wife) but nonetheless is actually fairly well known. Daybreak (1922) has outsold Warhol's Campbell's Soup Cans and Leonardo's Last Supper and enough reprints have been made to be hung in one out of four American homes. Its imagery has been used in Michael Jackson's "You Are Not Alone" video  and the original movie poster for "The Princess Bride", among other things.

Featured Content

Here is what Wikipedia says about Maxfield Parrish

Maxfield Parrish (July 25, 1870 – March 30, 1966) was an American painter and illustrator active in the first half of the 20th century. He is known for his distinctive saturated hues and idealized neo-classical imagery. His career spanned fifty years and was wildly successful: his painting Daybreak (1922) is the most popular art print of the 20th century.

Early life and education

Maxfield Parrish was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to painter and etcher Stephen Parrish and Elizabeth Bancroft. His given name was Frederick Parrish, but he later adopted Maxfield, his paternal grandmother's maiden name, as his middle, then finally as his professional name. He was raised in a Quaker society. As a child he began drawing for his own amusement, showed talent, and his parents encouraged him. Between 1884 and 1886, his parents took Parrish to Europe, where he toured England, Italy, and France, was exposed to architecture and the paintings by the old masters, and studied at the Paris school of a Dr. Kornemann.

He attended the Haverford School and later studied architecture at Haverford College for two years beginning in 1888. To further his education in art, from 1892 to 1895 he studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts under artists Robert Vonnoh and Thomas Pollock Anshutz. After graduating from the program, Parrish went to Annisquam, Massachusetts where he and his father shared a painting studio. A year later, with his father's encouragement, he attended the Drexel Institute of Art, Science & Industry.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Maxfield Parrish.