Maxfield Parrish, one of the most celebrated American painters and illustrators of the 20th century, was born 96 years ago today. Most of you parents will have heard his name before, but we think it’s time he influenced the youngest generation as well. In honor of his birthday, teach your kids a little something about the talented artist (don’t worry; we’ll teach you about him first). [all pics via parrish.artpassions]
Maxfield Parrish was actually born “Frederick” Parrish, but he took on his grandmother’s maiden name first as his middle name and then as his professional name. So, to all of us, he’s Maxfield. Born on July 25, 1870 in Philadelphia, Maxfield Parrish was the son of a painter and began drawing as a child, encouraged greatly by his parents. He was a dedicated art student, first attending Haverford College and then moving on to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Drexel Institute of Art.
His schooling, however, is far less interesting than his actual artwork. He built his own home and studio in New Hampshire, and lived there with his wife Lydia until she passed away in 1953. Maxwell is perhaps best known for his work as an illustrator: Versions of Mother Goose in Prose, Poems of Childhood, and Arabian Nights that contain his illustrations are exceptionally popular collectors’ items.
Much of Parrish’s popularity stems from the rich, bright colors of his artwork and the fact that his work cannot be categorized under any movement or school. It is fully individual and exceptionally influential. Indeed, his most popular piece of work, Daybreak, is worth more than $7 million and is used as the cover of multiple music albums, including that of the Irish musician Enya.
If you live in Rhode Island — chances are slim, we know — and are looking for a way to celebrate Parrish’s birthday, you can head on over to the National Museum of American Illustration, which boasts the largest boy of his work in any collection; they have 96 of his pieces. But even if you don’t live in Rhode Island — yes, that’s most of you — you can still catch his work at the Met in New York City, or at the Hood Museum of Art in New Hampshire.
Of course, you can celebrate by appreciating his work via the wonderful world of Google, too. Happy birthday, Maxfield Parrish!