Friday, July 25, 2014

Arty Farty Friday ~ Maxfield Parrish

Maxfield Parrish was briefly mentioned in the post relating to the Golden Age of Illustration. He deserves something more, on the anniversary of his birthday.

Maxfield Parrish was born into an old Quaker family on July 25, 1870, in Philadelphia. Frederick was his given name; he later adopted Maxfield, a family name, as a middle name. His parents encouraged his artistic pursuits, exposing him to great literature, art, and music. His father, Stephen Parrish, was also a painter, but came from a strict Quaker upbringing where painting was considered sinful. Stephen had to resort to painting secretly in the attic. He therefore fostered his son’s painting abilities in any way that he could. The young man spent two years, 1884-6, in Europe with his parents, attended classes at Dr. Kornemann’s school in Paris; continued his education at Haverford College, followed by classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in the early 1890s.

Parrish became a highly successful illustrator, sought after by well-known magazines of the day. He illustrated books, calendars, covers, advertisements, painted murals, as well as producing the paintings for which he remains famous.

Parrish married Lydia Austin, an instructor at the Drexel Institute in 1895. They eventually established a permanent home in Cornish, New Hampshire. Some detail of a personal nature is mentioned in a blog, Illustration Art, Artists in Love Pt 1.

Maxfield Parrish was 33, a successful illustrator living on a grand country estate, when he first met Sue Lewin. She was a 16 year old girl from a nearby farm town hired to help Parrish and his wife care for their two young children. Because Parrish's wife would no longer pose for him, he drafted their young nanny to pose in fairy tale costumes.
Lewin soon became his muse, modeling for his most famous illustrations.
Eventually Parrish moved out of the mansion where his wife and children stayed and set up residence in his art studio so that he and Lewin could work closely together. Not long after that, Parrish's wife began taking their children away on extended trips.

I'm tempted to add a Pythonesque "nudge nudge, wink, wink" here. The rest of the tale is available at the link provided.

Parrish has been called "Master of Makebelieve" - it's easy to see why. Many of his pieces remind me slightly of the paintings of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in Britain in the 19th century. Their work is rather more sensual, but I felt certain he was influenced by them; this was confirmed in a brief biography HERE

"(Parrish)was particularly drawn to such contemporary English artists as the Pre-Raphaelites, Rossetti, and Lord Leighton. Parrish took an immediate interest in Leighton's art, his lifestyle, and this shaped Parrish's artistic vision, and most certainly contributed to the creation of his curious blend of naturalism, fantasy and romanticism."

The painting below is one of Lord Leighton's.
Idyll (c.1880)

Parrish painted serenity, using glowing tones. He achieved a luminous glow by a particular method: applying thin layers of paint and varnish one atop the other. I'd love to see some of the originals, because the computer screen, though a wondrous accessory, will reflect only a general idea of the "feel" of the real thing. It seems, even from what can be seen on-line that his paintings did capture light wonderfully well.

He referred to himself as "a mechanic who paints." The "props" - vases, columns etc. used in his paintings - were made in his machine shop and carefully lighted before he began to paint. He was a meticulous draftsman, his work has an almost photographic quality. His technique, use of color and choice of subject matter add the touch of mythical unreality, suitable to his serene idyllic themes.

He painted until age 90, died, aged 95 in 1966. He is reported to have said:"There are countless artists whose shoes I am not worthy to polish - whose prints would not pay the printer, the question of judgment is a puzzling one." The general public knew what it liked, and relied on its own judgment - it liked Maxfield Parrish's work.

Samples of Parrish's paintings. As mentioned already, I doubt the true quality of his talent in depicting light and colour is properly evident from online images, but - these'll have to suffice for now.


 Lute Players


The Young King of the Black Isles



 Top Farm - Winter


Born 25 July 1870 in Philadelphia PA at 6.00pm (but gives this time a DD rating (unreliable). There's an alternative time mentioned, of 5.20 AM, recorded as "available in an old file" .

Or, here's the chart for a 5.20 AM birth - take your pick!

Either natal chart shows a clear "funnel" configuration, with Saturn in Sagittarius at the business end. He has been referred to as a "businessman with a brush" as well as "Master of Makebelieve". Capricorn (ruled by Saturn) rising at 6 PM underlines his instinct for business.

There's a Yod (two quincunx aspects joined by a sextile) involving the sextile between Pluto and Uranus with Saturn at the pointy end of the Yod formation - Saturn in focus on two counts, and a Capricorn ascendant would bring in a third. If born at 5.20 AM Leo would have been rising; the 5.20 AM chart puts Moon in Gemini rather than Cancer. I'm not sure which I prefer...on balance, I think I prefer the 6 PM chart, but an argument could be made for either.

Neptune (imagination and fantasy) in Aries trines Saturn in Sagittarius and sextiles Venus. Venus Mars and Moon form a stellium, albeit Venus is in the last degree of Gemini while Moon and Mars are in Cancer. Neptune's harmonious links are reflected in the artist's nickname "Master of Makebelieve".

Parrish's penchant for depicting androgynous figures rather than voluptuous feminine, or overtly masculine figures may be symbolised by the grouping of the Moon, Mars and Venus in his (6 PM version) natal chart. Masculine Mars sandwiched between feminine Moon and Venus, with just a degree or so between - an androgynous mix!

It's interesting that Parrish's first painting was titled "Moonrise". His Moon at home in Cancer (at 6 PM) would be one of the stronger placements in his chart. Sun at home in Leo is also strongly placed. It seems significant to me that the two celestial bodies which are major givers of light, strong in his natal chart, reflect clearly in his paintings always lauded for their unusually clear depiction of.....light!


mike said...

Oooh and ahhhh! I am utterly fascinated by Parrish's resonates within me. There is no comparable artist that has captured his style and methods. He employed various technologies and mathematics in his art, so his creativity had a mental dominance...Mercury, which was combust his Sun.

I was perversely interested in his juicy affair with Sue Lewin...LOL...I hadn't read that before. I tried your link to cgfa, but it doesn't link...could be my computer, though. I did acquire the information with your link to illustrationart.blogspot...interesting comments-conjectures about that relationship. I'll have to find a copy of the book by Alma Gilbert.

I agree with your thinking that the 6 PM chart is more in alignment. It also fits with his relationship to Alma Gilbert...whatever the relationship truly was...we'll never know.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Yes good point on Mercury/Sun

The Lewin tale made him seem a tad more human, I thought. :-) I have a link to CGFA? Not in this post - but I went there just now, via Google, looked for Parrish and found him - lots of examples of his paintings, but the colour there on some images is dire, but some are okay.

Yes, 6PM definitely better - it's odd that the other birth time could have come up though. I'd like to know more about how that came about.

mike (again) said...

cgfa link in the "here":

"Their work is rather more sensual, but I felt certain he was influenced by them; this was confirmed in a brief biography [HERE]"

Re Sue Lewin...yes, makes Parrish more human (not that he wasn't prior), but it was a bit weird. Parrish turned to the nanny (classic!), wife and kids always gone, nanny now is muse, then nanny lives with Parrish for 50 years while both claim it to be platonic, then she leaves Parrish...after his death, many nude photos of Lewin are discovered by the construction burns to the ground. Charming story...LOL.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Thanks - Dang! Yes that particular paragraph is one from my old original post. I missed the fact that the old link had gone defunct. I've replaced it now.

I think that what I meant by making him seem more human, was that it makes him seem more human in our own 21st century! His story is the kind of thing which appears on the covers of those awful tabloids I see at supermarket checkout racks . :-)
But then, same could be said of several other painters of the 19th and early 20th century who lived secret or colourful lives. (pun intended).

Twilight said...

PS~~ old 2008 post is here

I originally had compiled a video showing some of his paintings, with musical background, but when I closed my Photobucket account, where the vdeo was stored, the video died, hence the gap at the end of the post.

Anonymous said...

Robin Lee of Maine here, hello. Did u know that it was the art work of Maxfield Parrish that directly inspired Star Wars? The Lucas Effect, page 282. I filmed the sad demise of the Maxfield Parrish estate art studio- it is gone! It was created by Parrish and it was where he painted the masterpieces. That amazing art studio was steeped in so much art history and back then I knew not of the connection to Star Wars. I did feel a force there and it was really fascinating. I began twenty years worth of research and have made historic discoveries about Parrish and his wonderful and faithful model, Sue Lewin and she was the real force behind Parrish. I am sitting on something very powerful here- - - has a lot of info and it is in memory of Sue Lewin. This story must go global I can use help to get this on social media in hopes Lucas will see it, anyone know George Lucas, he should see this. Thank you. Robin Lee |<>|

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~ Hey there! Thank you for this information. I didn't know about a Star Wars link. I wish you success with the story. Facebook is going to be the best place to advertise I suspect. This post is more than 2 years old, although Google will occasionally bring readers here several years after posting date. If I ever have cause to post about Parrish again I'll certainly include your information in a new post.

Maxfield Parrish Motif said...

Thank you Twilight, I know but I do not do face book -- please feel free to do that, truly. but first.... read this epic article out of the UK, it is the best, I could cry, it is about Lucas and Leia and Maxfield Parrish and twenty years of work and research. I am so happy with this article, it will now go global, it is on a mega genius, nerd site.
( The Game of Nerds origins of Star Wars the case for Maxfield Parrish).
Look it up, amazing article and what a writer, I am so grateful. Thank you for your kind of words.

Maxfield Parrish Motif said...

Hey there back **Twilight, Robin Lee back, I hope this post comes through. Thank you for your kind words, I do not do face book for a reason but please feel free to put me on any face book after you read this. I am so happy that a major genus-nerd site out of the UK has just released "some" of my story, theories and findings, it is EPIC, must look it up. I have a story, twenty plus years in the making, now so much more info is here. Please pass this story on to everyone get it all over the universe. Their is a movie here in my lap with so many answers about Sue and Parrish, it must get discovered.....
Please look up, (The Game of Nerds origins of Star Wars the case for Maxfield Parrish)

Twilight said...

Maxfield Parrish Motif (Robin Lee)~ I don't do Facebook either - don't like it at all.
I'll leave your comments here, and any wandering readers in future will receive your information. Thanks for it.