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On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more Visionary: The Paul G. Allen Collection


signed and dated 'Maxfield Parrish/1913' (lower left)
oil on canvas
39 x 45 3/4 in. (99.1 x 116.2 cm.)
Painted in 1913
R.D. Merrill Foundation, Seattle (acquired from the artist, 1913).
American Illustrators Gallery, New York.
Acquired from the above by the late owner, 1997.
C. Ludwig, Maxfield Parrish, New York, 1973, pp. 96, 100-01 and 218, no. 811 (the magazine cover proof illustrated, fig. 65).
L.S. Cutler, J. Goffman and American Illustrators Gallery, Maxfield Parrish, New York, 1993, p. 9 (the magazine cover proof illustrated).
L.S. Cutler and J.G. Cutler, Maxfield Parrish: A Retrospective, San Francisco, 1995, pp. 92-93 (illustrated in color, p. 93).
L.S. Cutler and J.A.G. Cutler, Maxfield Parrish, New York, 1999, pp. 36-37 (illustrated in color on the frontispiece and pl. 27).
L.S. Cutler and J.A.G. Cutler, Maxfield Parrish, San Diego, 2001, pp. 74-75 (illustrated in color).
L.S. Cutler, J.G. Cutler and the National Museum of American Illustration, Maxfield Parrish and the American Imagists, Edison, 2004, p. 164 (illustrated in color).
Tokyo, Isetan Museum of Art; Osaka, The Museum of Art, Kintetsu; Yamanashi, Yamanashi Prefectural Museum of Art and Stockbridge, Norman Rockwell Museum, Maxfield Parrish: A Retrospective, April-December 1995, pp. 109, 165 and 180, no. 57 (illustrated in color, p. 109).
Special notice
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.

Brought to you by

Max Carter
Max Carter Vice Chairman, 20th and 21st Century Art, Americas

Lot Essay

After receiving his first magazine commission, for the 1895 Easter cover of Harper's Bazaar, Maxfield Parrish quickly established himself as one of America’s most desired illustrators. His career included work for all the leading publications of the day, including Life, Ladies' Home Journal and Scribner's. In Reveries, the artist demonstrates his consummate skill with immersive visual storytelling. Depicting one of his favorite muses, Susan Lewin, in isolation against a color field of the artist’s hallmark “Parrish blue,” Reveries invokes peaceful and spiritual contemplation alongside an archetype of youthful innocence and grace.
The present work relates to a 1911 commission by publisher William Randolph Hearst for a series of fairytale covers. Jack the Giant Killer (Private collection) was published on the June 1912 cover of Hearst’s Magazine, with The Frog-Prince (Private collection) and The Story of Snow White (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco) following in July and August. As Coy Ludwig explains, “When the first two covers arrived in the Good Housekeeping office in April 1912, Hearst was so enthusiastic about them that he pulled them away from Good Housekeeping to use on the cover of Hearst’s Magazine” (C. Ludwig, Maxfield Parrish, New York, 1973, p. 88). Despite the success of these works, Reveries—intended for the May 1913 cover—was never ultimately printed, as Parrish decided to conclude his partnership with the magazine before the present work’s publication.
As in the related covers from the fairytale series, Parrish’s enchanting figure in Reveries evokes a mystical heroine or goddess. This mythical quality to his visual story calls to mind the work of the British Pre-Raphaelite artists. Indeed, “as a young man Parrish was particularly drawn to contemporary English artists such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Frederick, Lord Leighton, originally perhaps because of the subjects of their paintings. These Pre-Raphaelite artists were heavily influenced by the romantic writers Black, Keats, and Lord Byron, and their subject matter was also of princesses and saints. This exposure ultimately contributed to Parrish’s personal lifestyle and artistic technique. It may have caused him to subconsciously blend his own curious mixture of naturalism, romanticism, and fantasy” (L.S. Cutler, J.G. Cutler, Maxfield Parrish: A Retrospective, San Francisco, 1995, p. 2).
For Reveries, Parrish posed and photographed his favorite model, Susan Lewin, in his studio on his Cornish, New Hampshire property known as “The Oaks.” The artist and his wife Lydia hired Lewin, the sixteen-year old niece of the artist’s brother’s housekeeper, to help with their first child in 1905. Lewin was tall and slender with thick, cascading hair and an oval face with large, expressive eyes. Her romantic looks were a perfect fit for Parrish’s Pre-Raphaelite sensibilities. “When Susan bounded around The Oaks with babes in arms, Parrish watched her with fascination. He imagined her as his counterpart to Lord Leighton's companion model, Dene. When he first asked her to model for him and that first pose resulted in the painting Land of Make-Believe (1905, Private collection), Parrish was so happy with the outcome that he began to use Susan as his constant model" (op. cit., 1995, p. 12).
In Reveries, Susan sits in contemplation amidst the peace and quiet of nature. Atop a swing of foliage, her classical dress drapes down in parallel to the abundant golden leaves surrounding her. Her pale skin and white clothing appear particularly ethereal against Parrish’s quintessential deep blue tones of the background. Through this fairy tale subject matter and gem-like color palette, Parrish evokes a time and place far beyond our everyday reality—a place of dreams, contemplation and fantasy.

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