Parrish Paradise

Maxfield Parrish
and the American Imagists
By Laurence S. Cutler C’62, Judy Goffman Cutler CW’63 GEd’64, and the National Museum of American Illustration. Wellfleet Press, 2004. $29.99.

A few years back, the Gazette published an article on Laurence and Judy Goffman Cutler and their successful effort to restore a Gilded Age mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, and convert it into a museum to display their extraordinary collection of works from the Golden Age of American illustration (roughly 1870 to 1965) [“A Museum of One’s Own,” July/August 2002].

With their recent coffee-table book, Maxfield Parrish and the American Imagists, the Cutlers have made many of the gems of the collection available to a wider audience. The 448-page volume offers loving reproductions of work from Parrish’s long and prolific career, which ran from 1895—when his first published image (an Easter cover for Harper’s) appeared—until his last work (a calendar titled Peaceful Country) was released shortly before his death in 1966. His popularity was such that during the 1920s his art prints could be found in one out of every four homes in America.

In addition to the artwork, the book includes a detailed biography of Parrish and a comprehensive discussion of his illustrations for periodicals and books; art prints, posters, and advertisements for everything from Jell-O to bicycles; calendars and landscapes; and his murals, stage-set designs, and photography. It also puts the artist in context, describing the environment in which Parrish lived and worked and providing mini-biographies of his friends, competitors, and successors, accompanied by a rich sampling of images from their work. Included are such leading illustrators as Charles Dana Gibson, J.C. Leyendecker, Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth, and Norman Rockwell, as well as less-remembered figures like W.H.D. Koerner, who specialized in the American West, and John LaGatta, known for what one critic called his “Chromium-Plated” women.

All in all, the next best thing to a trip to Newport.—J.P.

©2005 The Pennsylvania Gazette
Last modified 07/01/05


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