Monday, March 21, 2011

Maxfield Parrish (July 25, 1870 – March 30, 1966) II

Getting Away from It All

I was thinking of aging and art, today. And it seems that talent rarely perseveres into old age, but rather falls apart. Yet even if the technique of a brilliant mind survives into the latter years, there can't be a significant revolution in the art anymore, though perhaps there can be revelation; I suppose the last point depends on whether you're a Platonist or believe the soul ages. Of course there are exceptions to all that I've said, but most likely not dramatic ones. All of this thinking brought me to Parrish, who lived into his 96th year and who painted into his 91st. At the head of the post I've included his final work, and below this paragraph I've embedded a number of works that he made from his 80th to his 90th year. (Many of these paintings have multiple titles, but the first is always Parrish's own). I've already posted his earlier pieces here, which I think are a great point for comparison.  To me, Parrish's last works seem to be far softer in character than his earlier pieces, reflecting, in my mind, a man mostly looking out to nature for beauty than within his own creativity. And that final piece, Getting Away from It All, seems so bittersweet in its obvious message. What do you think of all of this? Am I very wrong?

Peace of Evening or Evening Shadows

Misty Morn or Swift-water 

Little Stone House

A Nice Place to Be or Sheltering Oaks  or River Bank

Cascades or Quiet Solitude


  1. you know, he is one of my favorite artists too! and I prefer his paintings , although I like illustrations very much. He has such a mystery in his art least I feel like that :)
    and his last work is a very simbolic one "Getting away from It All", he said a lot by this. it reminded me somehow on late works of classical composers, in last works they are even more profound than usual, it's like an essence of all their life which they express .

  2. Elenita, thank you for the comment. There is certainly a mystique surrounding the last works of composers. Yet few artists, in any field, lived so long as Parrish. And there is, I think, a decay in the quality of his works, but, at the very same time, there is, as you say, a profoundity.

  3. I get your point when you emphasize on longevity of his life. yes, indeed it's one of very few examples of such a long professional life. I say "professional", because sometimes they live a long life but don't create anything after a certain time or just do something occasionally, etc. well, looking forward to your new posts about Parrish ;)

  4. Elenita, I see, see. You might have to wait a bit for the next one, but I'll try not to make it disappoint.