Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966)
Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966)

The Knave of Hearts: Book Plate Page

Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966)
The Knave of Hearts: Book Plate Page
signed with initials 'M P' and inscribed 'From the Book-Shelf of/Theodore Weicker' (lower center)--signed and dated 'Maxfield Parrish:/1922.' and inscribed with title (on the reverse)
oil on panel
20 3/8 x 16 ¾ in. (51.8 x 42.5 cm.)
Painted in 1922.
The artist.
Theodore Weicker, acquired from the above.
By descent to the present owner.
L. Saunders, The Knave of Hearts, New York, 1925, illustrated.
C. Ludwig, Maxfield Parrish, New York, 1973, pp. 206, 217, no. 697.
Sale room notice
Please note this work is also signed with initials 'M P' at lower center.

Lot Essay

The present work was executed as the bookplate for Louise Saunder's The Knave of Hearts, published by Scribner's in 1925.

Alma Gilbert Smith explains, "Not until 1920 did [Maxfield Parrish] agree to illustrate what was to become one of the most valuable children’s books ever published, Louise Saunders’s Knave of Hearts. Saunders was the wife of Maxwell Perkins, the editor of Scribner’s. They summered in Cornish, New Hampshire, and were friends with the Parrishes. In a letter to J.H. Chapin of Scribner's, Parrish wrote on October 24, 1920: 'The reason I wanted to illustrate the Knave of Hearts was on account of the bully opportunity it gives for a very good time making the pictures. Imagination could run riot, not bound down by the period, just good fun and all sorts of things...' Parrish relished working three years on the twenty-six paintings for Knave of Hearts. He built an elaborate castle model in his fully equipped workroom to use in the illustrations for the book...Knave of Hearts, published in October 1925, was printed in rich colors on heavy coated paper. The illustrations were the highest quality reproductions that could be printed." (Maxfield Parrish: The Masterworks, Berkeley, California, 1992, pp. 49, 52)

Unfortunately, the high quality and large scale of the book was accompanied by an expensive price tag, which hampered sales of the publication. Regardless, The Knave of Hearts illustrations were a resounding success for Parrish, as Scott and Fowles Galleries in New York sold several of the original paintings from the series at a major Parrish exhibition in 1925 for a total of over $50,000.

The present work was originally published with the simple inscription "This is the book of," allowing the reader to add his or her own name to the bookplate. This lettering was amended by the artist to its present state when purchased by Theodore Weicker, a leader in the pharmaceutical business who co-founded E.R. Squibb & Sons, which eventually merged into Bristol-Myers Squibb. He was also grandfather to U.S. Senator Lowell Weicker. The work has since descended in the family.

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