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 Clara Weaver Parrish  (1861 - 1925)

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Lived/Active: New York / France      Known for: landscape, figure and portrait painting, design

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Clara Weaver is primarily known as Clara Weaver Parrish

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An example of work by Clara Weaver
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A landscape and figure painter and stained-glass designer, Clara Parrish was born and raised on her family's plantation outside of Selma, Alabama.  In the early 1880s, she went to New York City to study at the Art Students League with William Merritt Chase, W. Siddons Mowbray, Kenyon Cox, and J. Alden Weir.

She spent much time in Paris, maintaining studios there and in New York, and in Paris she attended the Academy Colarossi as a student of Gustav Courtois, and also studied privately with Alphonse Mucha and Raphael Collin.

In 1887, she married William Parrish, a stock broker, and they lived in New York City. Two years later they had a daughter who lived only 16 months, and in 1901, her husband died.

In the 1890s she began working for Louis Comfort Tiffany as a stain-glass window designer.  Among her designs were the windows for St. Michael's Episcopal Church in New York City and at least one mosaic mural for Alabama churches.

She exhibited widely including the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, the Royal Academy in London and the Paris Salon.  She was a member of the New York Watercolor Club and the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors.

North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century by Jules and Nancy Heller.

Biography from Charleston Renaissance Gallery:

Born near Selma, Alabama, into a family that included woodcarvers and writers, Clara Weaver Parrish showed a youthful interest in art. In the early 1880s, with the encouragement of her parents, she enrolled at the Art Students League in New York City. After studying under William Merritt Chase, H. Siddons Mowbray, J. Alden Weir and Kenyon Cox, she married William Parrish, a stockbroker, and settled permanently in New York.

In the 1890s Parrish designed stained glass windows for Louis Comfort Tiffany, while also achieving a reputation as a painter. She exhibited landscapes and figurative works at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1894 until 1919, and at the National Academy of Design from 1903 until 1920, and participated in most of the major exhibitions, including the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the Paris Exposition of 1900, the Appalachian Exposition in Knoxville in 1910, and the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. Parrish regularly returned to her native Alabama, lecturing to various groups on the importance of art museums, and painting the local scenery. In 1925, while making plans to return to teach and found an art museum, she was taken ill and died.

Parrish's experience in the Tiffany studios was the chief influence on her style. Her landscapes are typically rendered in jewel-like tones, with heavy emphasis on aquamarine, one of Tiffany's favorite colors. With their luminous surfaces and poetic mood, they take on the look of stained glass, an effect that was evident to a certain extent in all of Parrish's mature work. (NRS)

This essay is copyrighted by the Charleston Renaissance Gallery and may not be reproduced or transmitted without written permission from Hicklin Galleries, LLC.

Biography from The Johnson Collection:
Clara Weaver was born into a wealthy Alabama family in 1861. She grew up on her family's plantation near Selma where she and her siblings were encouraged to develop their artistic skills and talents. As she grew older, Parrish's interest in art increased and when she reached her early twenties, she moved to New York City to study painting at the Art Students League. Among her teachers were such notable artists as William Merritt Chase, Kenyon Cox, Siddons Mowbray, and J. Alden Weir. While she was primarily based in New York, Parrish often returned home to visit her family in Alabama.

In 1887, she returned home to marry William Parrish, also from Selma. They moved to New York where William worked as a broker in the New York Stock Exchange. Two years later, the couple had a daughter who unfortunately died shortly after her first birthday. Following the death of her child, Parrish pursued an interest in stained glass design and went to work in the studios of Louis Comfort Tiffany. Tiffany sought to infuse artistic value into living spaces, both private and public. The success of the American Aesthetic Movement depended on the collaboration of architects, furniture designers, craftsmen, and artists. The colorful and organic style of Art Nouveau developed in the Tiffany studios was an outgrowth of this Aesthetic Movement. Parrish worked as a stained glass designer and her work can be seen in St. Michael's Episcopal Church in New York City, as well as in several churches throughout Alabama.

Sadly, Parrish's husband passed away in 1901 leaving her a widow at the age of forty. While her true passion may have been for stained glass, her paintings and pastels also received high praise and were exhibited at the 1893 Chicago World's Exposition, the Paris Salon, and at the Royal Academy in London. Parrish's paintings and drawings were inspired by the Art Nouveau style and show the influence of her experience with stained glass in their simple and symbolic compositions. Many of her painted subjects are women who have also experienced personal tragedy, and are perhaps somewhat autobiographical. In the 1890s, she served as an officer of the New York Women's Art Club, dedicated to promoting women artists. From 1910 to 1914, Parrish lived in France where she took private art lessons, studied at the Académie Colarossi, and visited the country's great cathedrals. She died in New York in 1925.

The Johnson Collection, Spartanburg, South Carolina

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Clara Weaver is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915

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