The Hippo


Jan 20, 2020









See “Maxfield Parrish: The Power of the Print”

Where: Currier Museum of Art, 150 Ash St., Manchester
When: On view Oct. 9 through Jan. 10
Exhibition tour: Saturday, Oct. 17, at 11:30 a.m.
Currier After Hours: Parrish Party: Thursday, Dec. 3, 6 to 9 p.m., with a performance by Dimensions in Dance and Tuneful Trio from the Manchester Community Music School
Creative Studio: Make Your Own Calendar: Saturday, Dec. 12, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Admission: $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $9 for students, $5 for youth, free for children younger than 13, free admission Saturdays 10 a.m. to noon for NH residents
Contact: 669-6144,

Parrish popularity
Latest Currier show analyzes his fame

By Kelly Sennott

 More than 30,000 people attended the Currier Museum of Art’s 1999 exhibition “Maxfield Parrish: 1870-1966.” It was a record number, met only by last fall’s “M.C. Escher: Reality and Illusion,” and this was before the museum’s 2006 expansion. CEO Susan Strickler remembers lines trailing out the door that winter and staff members taking turns keeping visitors company.

“One of the staff members had been trained in Disney World about ‘fun meisters’ — talking to people outside, making sure [they know] we know they’re here, and keeping them in good cheer,” Strickler said.
Fifteen years later, the Currier decided to go back to Parrish, a long-time Plainfield, New Hampshire, resident, for the museum’s most recent exhibition, “Maxfield Parrish: The Power of the Print,” on view now through Jan. 10. 
Unlike the 1999 retrospective show that coated the entire museum, this one decorates just one room and narrows in on why Parrish was so popular, within the state and worldwide.
“They did a survey in the ‘30s. He was the most-produced American artist, and the third most-produced artist in the world behind van Gogh and Cezanne. Which is pretty impressive,” Samantha Cataldo, Currier assistant curator who organized the show, said during a pre-opening gallery walk-through.
“Parrish was a great artist. That’s undeniable. And he was expert in the execution of his paintings and illustrations,” Cataldo said. “He was sort of a wonder kid. … He audited classes with [famous illustrator] Howard Pyle, and Pyle allegedly said, ‘I can’t teach you anything here. Just go out and be an artist.’”
One major reason for his popularity, as viewers will see walking through the exhibition, is print. 
“He emerged to prominence at a time when color lithography was an emerging technology, and he really embraced that,” Cataldo said.
His career started in his mid-20s, when he began illustrating covers for magazines like Harper’s, Life and Time. It was the start of the golden age of American illustration, and Parrish wasted no opportunity to have art plastered on greeting cards, playing cards, posters and advertisements. When he designed a calendar on behalf of the Edison Mazda Lamp division of General Electric, about 20 million calendars were produced between 1917 and 1932, with an estimated 7 billion advertising messages delivered, according to GE. 
Candy manufacturer Clarence Crane also commissioned the artist to create a painting for their chocolate boxes, with large print order forms placed inside. In a year, his royalties exceeded $50,000 when the average yearly income was less than $2,000. When “Daybreak” came out in 1922, it was an estimated 1 in 4 Americans had some version of it. The cobalt blue he used so much in his work is often called “Parrish blue.” 
The exhibition contains about 75 pieces, with three paintings, the rest print, which come from Currier, Hood Museum of Art and private collections.
Cataldo said he was also popular because of his style — it was incredibly realistic but with fantastical and idyllic landscapes, like real life only better. Plus, he lived to age 96, and thus had time to get really good at it.
Of course, New Hampshirites likely most appreciate Parrish’s use of New Hampshire scenery, even if they were not exact depictions, but rather, landscape composites.
“We think that our visitors who saw the retrospective exhibition 15 years ago will enjoy returning to see more and learn more about Parrish, and we hope to introduce Parrish to a new generation as well,” Cataldo said.

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