Maxfield Parrish had studied at Haverford College and the Philadelphia College of Art prior to his invitation by Howard Pyle to study with him. Parrish arrived already a competent illustrator with a substantial body of work and accomplishment. Among members of this freshman class were the very gifted Violet Oakley, Jessie Wilcox Smith and Elizabeth Shippen Green. Henry C. Pitz, in his excellent book, The Brandywine Tradition isn’t clear about the dates involved but I would venture to guess the time as to be somewhere in the years from 1896 to 1899. See Howard Pyle: An Appreciation. Click on images to enlarge.
“Through the night she calls to men, luring them down to their death,” is the illustration for Phoebus on Halzaphron which appeared in Scribner’s Monthly Magazine for August 1901. The influence of Howard Pyle is obvious in the gesture, sky, sea, and voluminous folds of her flowing garment.
Illustration from “Keats’s Poem to Autumn” which appeared in The Century Magazine for November 1904.
This is pure Maxfield Parrish. No one else painted like this. It was almost like using a sketch for a mural to illustrate a magazine piece.
I think Rockwell Kent owed much of the drama in his work to Parrish’s posturing characters. I very much admire both of these men for their genius in thoroughly commanding the media with which they worked, but the grand gestures and poses seem to annoy as much as the rest of the illustration pleases.
The tile for this illustration is “ I am sick of being a princess,” and it appeared in The Century Magazine for December 1904. It is typical Parrish as illustrator of Edith Wharton’s Italian Gardens with two very stiff humans pasted on to a landscape sketch.
This is entitled “Sandman” and appeared in The Century Magazine for October 1905. It’s probably from the other side of Parrish’s brain, the one dedicated to the illustration of children’s books. Pyle and any number of his students, N.C. Wyeth comes to mind immediately, could have done equally as well if not better.
By August of 1907 Parrish had created another of his trademark subjects, the not-quite androgynous nude, seen here amidst leaves and brush about to be devoured by gnats and mosquitoes in front of a full harvest moon and Grecian temple. From Scribner’s Monthly Magazine for August 1907, illustrating lines from Wordsworth: “. . . than Naiad by the side / Of Grecian brook, or Lady of the Mere /
Sole-sitting by the shores of old romance.”
The jewels amidst these assignments are, in my opinion, two paintings Parrish did to illustrate “The Waters of Venice” by Arthur Symons, as the lead article in Scribner’s Monthly Magazine for April 1906. This man could see, and he could paint, as well as anyone of his contemporaries. It’s no mystery that he did the things he did, the heavy-handed schmalz and pretty pictures. By this time our popular press was taken over by images of saccharine sweetness and dream landscapes.
Next: Elizabeth Shippen Green