The Work of Maxfield Parrish

Maxfield Parrish 2
“Daybreak” (1922)

During his career, Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966) worked on immense murals in office buildings and hotels, magazine covers, advertisements, and books illustrations.

He illustrated classic childhood books, fairy tales, and nursery rhymes such as Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, the 1904 Scribner and Son’s Poems of Childhood, Arabian Nights, both the 1909 version and the 1923 edition and many more. In 1922, Parrish created “Daybreak”, shown above, which is regarded as the most popular art print of the 20th century.

At the turn of the 20th century, many of Parrish’s illustrations resulted from his struggle to make a living as an artist. When he switched to utilizing oil paints, his artwork became very popular. People were stricken by the brilliant colors and magical luminosity that aided to magical effects of his paintings. He would apply numerous layers of thin, transparent oil, alternating with varnish over stretched paper. Even though this was a tedious process, the paintings exhibited extraordinary detail.

From the 1930s until the 1960s, when Parrish stopped painting, he refocused on the world around him by drawing a series of landscapes. When Maxfield Parrish died in 1966, his legacy continued, as many of his paintings are still very popular today.

Arabian Nights 2
Left: “Arabian Nights” (1909)
Right: “Aladdin” (1907)
Maxfield Parrish 3
Left: “Cinderella” (1913)
Right: “The Frog Prince” (1912)
Author: Kayla Harris for Graphis

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