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Beautiful Daze

Which 20th-century painting was the most popular, would you say? Warhol’s Campbell Soup, or maybe Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter?

The answer is neither – it is “Daybreak”, by the American painter Maxfield Parrish . 

Antarctica in 1910

Sketches from Antarctica in 1910

Light dance at the firefly sanctuary in Nanacamilpa

A bluebird at the foot of the statue of St. Francis

The modern world intrudes everywhere

The White House pony Macaroni.

Portrait of Florentine Aristocratic lady Giovanna Tornabuoni | Painter Domenico Ghirlandaio | Florence-1488

The Story of the Sun Moon and Stars



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  • Tom Hyland July 6, 2022, 9:55 AM

    To describe the different mindset of Americans compared to Germans… “Daybreak” was the most reproduced image displayed in American homes for many years. While at the same time “The Isle of the Dead” by Arnold Böcklin became the most popular choice of home owners there. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isle_of_the_Dead_%28painting%29

    The woman lying on the patio in Daybreak is the granddaughter of William Jennings Bryan. The nude girl, age about 10, is Parrish’s daughter Jean. (1911-2004) She was the same figure within Parrish’s famous image “Stars” (1926) painted four years later. https://www.etsy.com/listing/1120050385/stars-by-maxfield-parrish

    I spoke with Jean on the phone several times in the mid-80s when she was living in Albuquerque. I had read somewhere that she detested her father so every time we spoke I never mentioned his name. That freed her up to shoot the shit and talk about her own incredible landscape abilities I greatly admired. Her work did resemble Maxfield’s style though the large extent of it was southwest desert vistas. She sounded pretty rough and tough, like a smoke and whisky type, punctuated with a descriptive curse here and there. But she was getting on in years and it was never the right day to come over and visit though she thanked me for the calls.

  • Tom Hyland July 6, 2022, 11:14 AM

    What can you say? Some art simply pisses off people and rubs them the wrong way. If a repair crew shows up I’d like to ask who is paying them.

    • John the River July 6, 2022, 6:32 PM

      A very strange story. The first question I had was why was the rest of the site demolished so quickly? Obviously it wasn’t a danger to anyone, it sit by itself on a rural piece of ground. It does make the thought of repairing it less likely.
      I’d think that the authorities would want to preserve the ‘crime scene’. Not? Why?
      Never been there but the descriptions seem interesting. I don’t see the ‘demonic’ description at all.
      Built during the Cold War, the half billion figure for the population of the Earth could be a prayer that WWW3 didn’t kill off the entire human race.

      I’d think the first priority would be finding anyone with access to enough high explosive to shatter granite slabs that size.
      Very odd.

      • Tom Hyland July 7, 2022, 7:02 AM

        I saw the video of the explosion. And I saw the video of a nondescript sedan, a “jelly bean” as Kurt Vonnegut used to call cars these days, driving away. So if there’s a camera rolling at this location 24/7 there’s a video of one or two persons walking towards the monument probably a half hour earlier setting the explosives and running back to the car. Could very well been officers working overtime in the Sheriff’s department following orders to get this thing outta here because it’s an embarrassment to the PTB that’s causing people to sit up and ask, “WTF?”

        Now it’s been leveled for “safety reasons” so there will never be an investigation. Nothing to see here, folks, literally.

        • Dirk July 7, 2022, 10:39 AM

          Our history’s being erased. Can’t creat a new history when an existing history stands in the way.

          What kind of govt allows a history to be reprogrammed.

  • Lance de Boyle July 6, 2022, 12:41 PM

    Thanks for a bit of art history, Tom. Dang! I thought Maxfield was a good guy! Anywho, he sure had a way with paint.

  • julie July 6, 2022, 12:57 PM

    As an occasional artist myself, and especially as my kids get older, I make it a point not to make them particularly identifiable online, much less portray them nude for the world to see. I don’t remember if it ever occurred to me to wonder about Parish’s young model, but knowing it was his daughter really changes how I view his work. Which is unfortunate, because I always had a deep appreciation for his work.

    That said, thank Gerard for the lovely collection of soul-soothing beauty. I particularly love the little bluebird gazing up at St. Francis as though they are deep in conversation.

    • Hyland July 6, 2022, 4:20 PM

      Jean Parrish had no resentment that her dad posed her in his paintings, whether nude or not. She being an artist herself she was highly supportive of the hired hands who helped populate a painting. Here’s a painting of Jean w/clothing. https://pixels.com/featured/3-ecstasy-maxfield-parrish.html

      Her big problem with Maxwell was he was a workaholic… as if that wasn’t obvious… and he devoted practically zero attention to wife and family. I guess he was a self-centered jerk… but you gotta admit what he was creating was so intriguing he couldn’t dilute his attention to other worldly matters.

  • julie July 6, 2022, 1:06 PM

    Some of Jean Parrish’s landscapes here and here. Agree with Tom, her paintings are gorgeous, too.

  • lpdbw July 6, 2022, 1:12 PM

    For a brief period of time in the last century, Parrish’s house was a B&B, and I spent one night in it, in his bedroom.

    I arrived after dark, and left shortly after dawn, but I remember the amazing view out the french doors leading outside from the bedroom. A long expanse, and a valley, and fog. I believe there was some statuary. A perfect setting for an artist.

    I’ll let his art stand alone from the person. I can do that sometimes, but not all the time.

    • Tom Hyland July 6, 2022, 2:52 PM

      The Cornish, New Hamphire colony of artists got its start when the sculpting master Augustus Saint-Gaudens moved there and encouraged many others to join him in the area. I visited the Saint-Gaudens house and studio and wow… what a location. This man was a genius for his marvelous works but the view of the countryside from the front yard is a masterpiece all in itself. I’ve never been to the Parrish house but it is the subject of many of his late-in-life landscapes when he stopped painting the nymphs and romantic characters. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augustus_Saint-Gaudens

  • Stephen C July 6, 2022, 2:59 PM

    Had ‘Daybreak’ hanging in my apartment, found it in a second hand shop, that was 50 years ago. Once I got married Daybreak was exiled and now comfortably rests in the basement. I still like it.

  • Sid V July 6, 2022, 5:44 PM

    I’ve got a Parrish print in my living room. “Moonlight Night: Winter”. With any luck Ghostsniper will someday build me an exact replica of the house and barn depicted.

  • Sid V July 6, 2022, 5:51 PM

    If you’re ever in Philly, this is a must see (across the street from independence Hall): “ The Dream Garden” by Parrish. “ A breathtaking mural composed of hundreds of thousands of irreplaceable glass tesserae in more than 260 color tones” (Height 16′ width 50′)


    • Hyland July 6, 2022, 6:48 PM

      That is a terrific story about “The Dream Garden.” The Merriam family should have their asses kicked soundly for threatening to demolish this masterpiece. Reminds me of Adolph and his scorched earth remedy. “If I can’t have it then no one will.”

  • jpkimjoy July 7, 2022, 9:06 AM

    I miss Mike Austin.

    • Vanderleun July 7, 2022, 9:10 AM

      He’ll be back. He’s on bike-about.

  • Dirk July 7, 2022, 10:44 AM

    Mike wisely chose really good whisky over a computer, For his “bike about”.
    Smart,,,,,,,,very very smart.