Friday, December 9, 2022

Maxfield Parrish's Palette

Earlier this week, or perhaps it was last week, we had the good fortune to witness a beautiful sunset while walking out onto the Green. The radiant pink and purple clouds were stunning with the blue sky behind them, and it brought to mind the color palette of a certain painter and illustrator who lived and died in Plainfield, New Hampshire, only a dozen miles or so from the Dartmouth campus. Maxfield Parrish was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1870; he was raised in a Quaker society and attended Haverford College, like any good Pennsylvania Quaker should. He then attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and studied under Howard Pyle at the Drexel Institute of Art, Science, & Industry.

In 1898, Parrish and his wife moved to Plainfield, where he became an
important member of the Cornish Art Colony. Famous sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens was at the center of this gathering of artists and other creatives, which at times swelled to nearly one hundred people in size. After Saint-Gaudens died in 1907, the colony slowly dissolved. However, the Upper Valley had clearly made an impression on Parrish. He continued on in New Hampshire until 1966 when he died here at the ripe old age of 95.


Parrish was a wildly successful illustrator for over fifty years and the Upper Valley was his muse. Whenever we step outside and behold the glory of another New Hampshire/Vermont sunset, we always feel a kinship with him and, perhaps, that same sense of awe that he first felt upon settling here. Come to Rauner if you want to stumble upon even more stunning vistas within the Maxfield Parrish papers (ML-62).