1846 (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
1938 (Plainfield, New Hampshire)
Subject to Copyright
Often Known For
etcher, landscape, marine, and figure painter
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|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|The following biography is based on information provided by Larry W Greenly of Albuquerque, New Mexico:|
the 1880s, Stephen Parrish was one of the leading etchers in America.
Although his paintings were received with favor and were shown
regularly in New York and at exhibitions throughout the country, he was
more widely known for his etchings, especially those of New England
In 1867, he was in Paris, but as a coal
merchant, and not as an artist. By 1869 in Philadelphia, he owned
a stationery store, which he sold in 1877 and then committed himself to
painting and etching. Around 1890, after the peak of the Etching
Revival, he returned to painting landscapes on Cape Cod and Cape Ann,
and also traveled to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. He stopped
painting in the mid 1920s due to a stroke. He was the brother of
Anne L. Parrish and father of illustrator Maxfield Parrish.
Parrish was a descendant of Edward Parrish of Yorkshire, England,
captain of a trading vessel that traveled between England and
Chesapeake Bay. Upon settling in America Captain Parrish received
three thousand acres of land where the city of Baltimore now stands and
was appointed to the position of surveyor-general of Maryland.
Other ancestors were respected Quaker physicians who had been
heroically active during the influenza epidemic that decimated
Philadelphia in the early part of the eighteenth century.
Parrish encouraged his son's (Maxfield Parrish) talent from a very
early age. For Maxfield's third birthday, Stephen gave him a large
sketchbook with "Fred Parrish--Christmas--1873" embossed on the
cover. He traveled with his son through the capitals and major
museums of Europe, painting and sketching, developing the close, warm
relationship that lasted throughout their lives.
Parrish filled over fifty pages of the book with elaborate and humorous
drawings of monkeys and other animals for the amusement and instruction
of his son. This encouraging and cultured atmosphere was in striking
contrast to that in which Stephen Parrish himself had been
raised. Coming from a devout Quaker family who believed painting
to be sinful as a youth he is said to have found it necessary to
retreat to the attic in order to draw and paint in secret.
was determined that his son would have every opportunity to develop his
talent. As far as he was able he instructed him in the techniques of
drawing, and a number of the earliest extant works of Maxfield Parrish
are childhood sketches made on the backs of advertisement fliers
received in his father's shop. More important, however, Stephen
helped his son to develop a critical and analytical eye by teaching him
how to observe objects in nature.
In 1884, Stephen, his wife,
and Maxfield sailed on an extended trip to Europe. They traveled
for two throughout England, northern Italy, and France. Much of
Stephen's time in Europe was spent at his easel. The family
enjoyed the museums, the concerts and the opera in Europe. They
returned in 1886.
Stephen not only instructed his son during his
boyhood years, but the two men shared a seaside studio at Annisquam,
Massachusetts, for two summers in 1892 and 1893. Stephen Parrish
spent only a few weeks at Annisquam in 1893, however, as he was busy
overseeing the construction of his new home at Cornish, New Hampshire.
Cornish, New Hampshire has always been associated first and foremost
with the artist who purportedly "discovered" it--the leading American
sculptor of the late nineteenth century, Augustus Saint-Gaudens.
In 1885, Saint-Gaudens was coaxed by Charles Cotesworth Beaman, Jr., a
successful New York lawyer and patron who bought land in the relatively
impoverished farm communities of Plainfield and Cornish in the
1880s--to rent a house on his property. The sculptor and his
family returned every summer thereafter, finally purchasing the house
Saint-Gaudens' and Beman's partnership, with their
respective celebrity and generosity, nurtured Cornish as a colony for
artists; George de Forest Brush and Thomas Wilmer Dewing were two
of the first to establish summer residences there. Stephen Parrish was
introduced to the colony, in 1891, through his friendship with fellow
etcher and later architect and garden designer Charles A. Platt.
1. Falk Peter, ed. Who Was Who in American Art. Soundview Press:
Madison CT; 1985.
2. Gilbert Alma M. Maxfield Parrish: The Masterworks. Ten Speed
Press: Berkeley, CA; 1992.
3. Ludwig C. Maxfield Parrish, 3rd ed. Watson-Guptill
Publications: NY; 1975.
4. Yount S. Maxfield Parrish: 1870 - 1966. Harry N. Abrams,
Inc.: New York; 1999.
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