Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966)
Property from a Private New York Collection
Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966)

Getting Away From It All

Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966)
Getting Away From It All
signed and dated 'Maxfield Parrish 61' (lower left)
oil and pencil on masonite
11 ½ x 15 ½ in. (29.2 x 39.4 cm.)
Painted in 1961.
The artist.
Estate of the above.
Alma Gilbert, acquired from the above, 1973.
Alfred E. Perlman, Hillsborough, California, acquired from the above.
By descent to the present owner.
C. Ludwig, Maxfield Parrish, New York, 1973, p. 219, no. 850.
A. Gilbert, The Make Believe World of Maxfield Parrish and Sue Lewin, San Francisco, California, 1990, p. 73 (as Away from it All).
A. Gilbert, Maxfield Parrish: The Masterworks, San Francisco, California, 1992, pp. 188-89, 214, 262, illustrated.
L.S. Cutler, J.G. Cutler, Maxfield Parrish: A Retrospective, San Francisco, California, 1995, p. 17.
L.S. Cutler, et al., Maxfield Parrish and the American Imagists, Edison, New Jersey, 2004, p. 98 (as Away From It All).
A.G. Smith, Maxfield Parrish: Master of Make-Believe, Washington, D.C., 2005, pp. 103, 113, 135, no. 87, illustrated.
A. Gilbert-Smith, Maxfield Parrish: The Secret Letters (1936 -1941), San Pedro, California, 2012, pp. 194-95, illustrated.
Plainfield, New Hampshire, The Oaks: Maxfield Parrish Museum, December 8, 1979-June 30, 1980, on loan.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; Manchester, New Hampshire, Currier Gallery of Art; Rochester, New York, University of Rochester, Memorial Art Gallery; Brooklyn, New York, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Maxfield Parrish: 1870-1966, June 19, 1999-August 6, 2000, pp. 118-19, 153, no. 56, illustrated.

Lot Essay

Already renowned for his figurative murals and magical story illustrations, in 1930, Maxfield Parrish turned to landscape painting, beginning a new phase of his career with the enthusiasm and energy of a young artist. In the 1920s, "Parrish unequivocally described himself as a commercial artist. Yet, more and more, he seemed to go beyond that label, into the realm of self-expressive painting. To this end, his ideal landscape moved from the background to the foreground until it dissolved the demarcation completely...Thus, at the age of sixty, Parrish increasingly turned to painting the 'joys of nature' with an 'unattainable' verisimilitude, producing his last figurative composition--Jack Frost--in 1936." (Sylvia Yount, Maxfield Parrish: 1870-1966, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1999, p. 113) Painted in 1961 as the last work of his long and storied career, the present work, Getting Away From It All, can be seen as Parrish’s ultimate expression of his ‘joy of nature.’

While many of Parrish’s landscapes were commissioned works, such as the several illustrations he created for Brown & Bigelow calendars beginning in 1935, Getting Away From It All is a more exceptional work in that Parrish chose to paint the subject solely for himself. Indeed, it was kept in his studio for the remainder of his life, and he gave the work its title. As such, Parrish’s choices seem particularly meaningful. The title Getting Away From It All acknowledges that, with this work complete, he is leaving his painting career behind, yet it also alludes to Parrish’s longtime pleasurable escape from his daily life into the beauty of nature. That passion for the landscape is reflected in the intensity of the colors Parrish employs in its depiction, including his signature blue, which add emotion and atmosphere to the scene. As reflected in this ultimate work, the artist once declared that "realism should never be the end in view. My theory is that you should use all the objects in nature, trees, hills, skies, rivers and all, just as stage properties on which to hang your idea, the end in view, the elusive qualities of a day, in fact all the qualities that give a body the delights of out of doors." (as quoted in C. Ludwig, Maxfield Parrish, New York, 1973, p. 185)

In Getting Away From It All, one small, snow-covered cottage appears dwarfed by the towering mountains surrounding it, yet the window of the home persistently glows with warmth from within. At once, Parrish seems to represent the awesomeness of nature but also his own deeply personal outlook on the nature of humanity. Alma Gilbert Smith explains, “The little oil on board almost appears as a goodbye from the artist…There is a light in the window, and spectacular light rising behind the hill beckoning the viewer to leave the safety of the home front and reach out into another realm." (Maxfield Parrish: Master of Make-Believe, Washington, D.C., 2005, p. 103) Sylvia Yount similarly reflects on the spirituality inherent in this final work, writing, "In a strikingly synthetic mountain landscape, a single light shines through a lone snow-covered cabin, incongruously sheltered by a diminutive oak tree--a fitting finale to a life well spent." (Maxfield Parrish: 1870-1966, p. 118)

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