Media File
Maxfield Parrish
Date: American painter and illustrator, 1870–1966
Biography: Parrish was a prolific illustrator who was know to have worked with Collier's, Scribner's, Book Buyer, Harper's Weekly, Life, and Ladies Home Journal. He additionally illustrated books and created posters and murals. Parrish work defined popular tastes in the post-World War I period with millions of prints of his paintings produced. His painting Daybreak was the most popular print of the 20th century.

Born in Philadelphia to a Quaker family Maxfield Parrish was given the name Frederick, but later adopted the family name of "Maxfield" as his middle, and eventually professional, name. His father was the etcher Stephen Parrish and his mother was Elizabeth Bancroft. Parrish travelled through Europe with his family from 1884-86 and attended classes at Dr. Kornemann's school in Paris. He attended Haverford College, graduating in 1892. He continued his artistic education at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1892-84 studying under Robert W. Vonnoh and Thomas P. Anshutz.

Parrish was briefly a student of Howard Pyle and audited his courses at the Drexel Institute. It was there he met Lydia Austin, an instructor at the school, who he married in 1895. Later that year they established a home together at 12th and Spruce streets in Philadelphia and in 1898 they built their famous house and studio "The Oaks" in Cornish, New Hampshire. They had four children together.

Often referring to himself as, "a mechanic who paints," Parrish produced much of the vases, columns, and other props that appear in his paintings in his own machine shop. His early work consisted of gnome-like characters in medieval costumes with densely packed backgrounds. By the height of his popularity, he began to paint romantic themes that combined medieval and classical elements. He was especially known in this period for his young maidens in landscapes and androgenous figures. Tiring of such subjects by the 1930's, Parrish transistioned to painting rural landscapes inspired by his surroundings in Cornish. He created art into his early 90's, eventually stopping due to severe arthritis. He died at the age of 95.

Rowland Elzea and Elizabeth H. Hawkes, editors. A Small School of Art: The Students of Howard Pyle. Wilmington, DE: The Delaware Art Museum, 1980.