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Maxfield Frederick Parrish (1870-1966)

Aliases: Maxfield Parrish

Professions: Figure painter; Illustrator; Painter; Landscape painter; Decoration painter

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  • Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966)

  • Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966)

  • Maxfield Parrish 1870-1966 , The Canyon oil on panel

  • MAXFIELD PARRISH (American 1870 - 1966)

Maxfield Frederick Parrish Biography

(b Philadelphia, PA, July 25, 1870; d New Hampshire, March 30, 1966) American painter. Born Frederick Parrish, he later adopted the maiden name of his paternal grandmother, Maxfield, as his professional name. His father encouraged his artistic interests at a young age with trips to Europe that introduced him to many diverse styles, techniques and subjects. Impressed by Gothic and Renaissance architecture seen in Europe, Parrish enrolled at Haverford College, outside Philadelphia, with the plan of becoming an architect. Unsatisfied with this prospective life path, he left the college his junior year to study as an artist at the oldest art institute in the nation, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA). Although he changed his career focus, the rigid forms and methods and the sense of scale and proportion that he had acquired in his architectural studies would govern Parrish's art throughout his career.* From 1892 to 1894 Parrish studied at PAFA where he experimented with a technique of glazing—painting in layers of oil and varnish with unmixed colors—that came to define his style. Howard Pyle, an illustrator at The Drexel Institute of the Arts in Philadelphia, not only influenced Parrish but helped him to obtain a magazine commission in 1895 for the Harper’s Bazaar cover. He went on to work for other publications such as Life, Scribner’s, Harper’s Weekly and Collier’s. Starting in the 1890s, Parrish began experimenting with landscapes and the play of light and color against the terrain; introducing these elements into his magazine and book illustrations. Scenes from areas around Italy, Arizona and Cape Ann, Massachusetts, inspired much of his work. In 1895, he married Lydia Woodstown. Three years later, Parrish was inducted into the Society of American Artists for his painting, “The Sandman” (1895) and in 1900 he received honorary mention at the Universal Exposition, Paris, France. By the 1930s, Parrish retired from illustration; primarily concentrating on painting rural landscapes. He passed away at the age of 95 in 1966 at his home, “The Oaks,” in Plainfield, New Hampshire. (Credit: *Christie's, New York, Important American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, May 25, 2006, lot 27)

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