Art Deco: The Art Of ‘Maxfield Parrish’

Maxfield Parrish 'Contentment'

Maxfield Parrish




'The Garden Of Allah' Parrish

Maxfield Parrish

‘The Garden Of Allah’

Maxfield Parrish 'Daybreak'

Maxfield Parrish

While in the process of writing ‘ The Past Tense Of Youth’ I spent hours searching through the European Orientalist painters at the turn of the century and also great artworks of the 1930s.

Amongst others from the latter period I came across the works of Maxfield Parrish whose amazing Florescent colours really made his work stand out. An American artist  who was famous for his childrens illustrations as much as for his paintings Parrish lived his whole life in New Hampshire and his home, also his studio, was called ‘The Oaks’.

'Daybreak' Maxfield Parrish

‘Daybreak’ Maxfield Parrish

A beautiful dreamlike quality permeated his work and gave it a fairytale quality. In his paintings there is also a strong emphasis on photography and it is at times like looking at an over exposed negative particularly in ‘The Garden of Allah’ A very 1930s deco depiction of the east.  Soft,romantic and contemplative with the beauty of the gardens creating a fantasy backdrop.

Parrish " Mountain Ecstacy'

Parrish ” Mountain Ecstacy’

There was a certain similarity too between the art of Maxfield Parrish and that of some of my favourite Orientalists principally in the use of light.  Especially the works of Lord Leighton .  The visual splendour of paintings by both these arists have inspired my writing and have helped to move my story which begins in the 1930s and goes back to the early 19th century.

Frederick Leighton was, of course, known as one of  the greatest classical painters of his time and  his work was known throughout Europe.

idyll Leighton Born in England Leighton came from a very wealthy family and travelled Europe extensively.  He fell under the spell of the east, however, spending a great deal of time in North Africa in particular.


It is well known that he questioned his own religion and his wok reflected a humanist approach full of mystic romanticism.He was enamoured with mythology and with nature. In ‘Light Of The Harem’  seen her in the centre Leighton paints a very romanticised picture of life in a harem. The beauty on the right seems off  in a daydream while her young servant girl holds up a mirror to her face.  All around her there is a soft golden light that gives her an inner glow.

'Solitude' Frederick Leighton

‘Solitude’ Frederick Leighton

As in the paintings of Maxwell Parrish there is an inner peace and a contemplative quality that evokes the imagery of an ideal world.

Leighton Light of the Harem  Although these two great artists were from different eras and different countries they shared a similarity in the way they viewed their respective worlds.

The beauty of these great works of art fuels the imagination and feeds the senses.

© Renee Dallow ( Hybiscus Bloom ) 26/8/2014



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