Maxfield Parrish

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The Dinky Bird from Poems of Childhood, 1904

Maxfield Parrish (July 25, 1870 - March 30, 1966) was an American painter and illustrator.

Born as Frederick Parrish in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he began drawing for his own amusement as a child. His father was an engraver and landscape artist, and young Parrish's parents encouraged his talent. He attended Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He went into a artistic career that lasted for many decades, and helped shape the Golden Age of illustration and the future of American visual arts.

Launched by a commission to illustrate Kenneth Grahame's The Walls Were as of Jasper in 1897, his repertoire included many prestigious projects such as Eugene Field's Poems of Childhood (1904, see illustration) and the traditional Arabian Nights (1909).

In the 1920s, Parrish turned away from illustration and concentrated on painting for its own sake. Androgynous nudes in fantastical settings were an often recurring theme. He continued in this vein for several years, living comfortably off the royalties brought in by the production of posters and calendars featuring his works. His most beloved model was Susan Lewin.

In 1931, he declared to the Associated Press, I'm done with girls on rocks, deciding instead to focus solely on landscapes. Though never as popular as his earlier works, he profited from them.

Parrish's art features dazzlingly luminous colors. (The color Parrish blue was named in acknowledgement.) He achieved the results by means of a technique involving several coats of oil and varnish applied to his paintings.

Parrish's work defies categorization since he was part of no traditional movement or school, and developed an original and individual style.

He painted until he was 91 years old.

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Cadmus Sowing the Dragon's teeth (1908)

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