Currier Gallery of Art

Manchester, NH

(603) 669-6144


Maxfield Parrish, 1870-1966


Maxfield Parrish, the world renowned painter and one of New Hampshire's most famous artist/residents, returns to the Granite State this fall with a major survey of the beloved illustrator's works opening at The Currier Gallery of Art on November 6, 1999. Maxfield Parrish, 1870-1966 features more than 150 works, including 50 rarely seen original oil paintings, as well as original watercolors, drawings, a 10-foot mural, vintage prints, and numerous artifacts and ephemera representing the full scope of the artist's career. The exhibition, which is the first survey of Parrish works in New Hampshire in over 35 years, will have its exclusive New England showing at the Currier Gallery from November 6, 1999 through January 24, 2000.

Images from left to right: Ferry's Seeds: Mary, Mary Quite Contrary, 1921, oil on board; Jack Frost, 1936, oil on board; Princess Parizade Bringing Home the Singing Tree, 1906, oil on stretched paper; Two Pastry Cooks: Blue Hose and Yellow Hose, 1921, oil on paper laid down on panel.

"Parrish is certainly the most popular illustrator/artist of the first half of the 20th century, and in the last decade there has been a renewed interest in him on the part of scholars, artists and collectors," said Susan Strickler, Director of The Currier Gallery of Art. "Parrish images were highly sought after by publishers for use in magazines, books and advertisements. In this sense he has often been called 'America's first truly public artist'," Ms. Strickler added.

No painting better illustrates Parrish's extraordinary popularity than Daybreak a 1922 oil on panel created specifically for reproduction as an art print, and which is featured m the exhibition. By 1925 it was estimated that both high- and low-end reproductions of Daybreak could be found in one out of four American households. The popularity of this and other images by Parrish led Time magazine in 1936 to write that "as far as the sale of expensive color reproductions is concerned, the three most popular artists in the world are van Gogh, Cézanne and Maxfield Parrish." (left: Daybreak, 1922, oil on panel; right: Old King Cole, 1894, ink, graphite watercolor, gouache and collage on wove paper)

Frederick Maxfield Parrish was born in Philadelphia in 1870 to Elizabeth Bancroft and Stephen Parrish, himself an acclaimed etcher and landscape painter. As a young man Maxfield attended Swarthmore College and Haverford College where he studied architecture, but he left in his junior year to pursue the visual arts by enrolling in Philadelphia's leading art institution, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

Following a visit to his parent's home in Cornish, NH in 1894, Parrish and his wife, Lydia, purchased land in nearby Plainfield, becoming full-time residents in 1898. Parrish designed and built his home, The Oaks, and soon became an active member of the Cornish Colony of artists. Parrish drew inspiration from New Hampshire landscapes for many of his paintings, but he also cherished the privacy and lack of distractions of the small Connecticut River valley town. Parrish lived and worked at The Oaks until his death in 1966. (left: Moonlight Night, Winter, 1942, oil on canvas)

Maxfield Parrish, 1870-1966, which was organized under the direction of the Pennsylvania Academy's chief curator Sylvia Yount, highlights the various phases of Parrish's prolific 70-year career. The show also examines the artist's reputation among colleagues, critics and the public, and considers Parrish's historical importance and enduring influence.

"Many visitors will recognize his images such as Old King Cole, Humpty Dumpty, and Little Red Riding Hood that he used in illustrations and murals," said Ms. Strickler. "Because of the enduring popularity of his paintings and his nearly 70-year residence in Plainfield, we are truly delighted to bring this extraordinary exhibition to the Granite State," Ms Strickler concluded. (left: Interlude (The Lute Players), 1922, oil on canvas)

Maxfield Parrish, 1870-1966 was organized by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and The American Federation of Arts. Major funding was provided by the Henry Luce Foundation, Inc. Additional support has been provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. Support for the New Hampshire presentation of the exhibition comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Putnam Foundation, Hitchiner Manufacturing, Jefferson Pilot Financial, the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, and the Arthur Getz Charitable Trust.


Read more about the Currier Gallery of Art in the Resource Library

For further biographical information on selected artists cited in this article please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 10/26/10

Search Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art.

Copyright 2010 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.