Hunt Farm (Daybreak)
Oil on Masonite
Gift of the artist, through the Friends of the Library; P.950.73
Through his illustrations for books, magazines, calendars, and greeting cards, Maxfield Parrish became perhaps the most familiar and popular American artist of the first three decades of this century. He gained renown for his meticulously crafted, highly synthetic compositions, which often featured scantily clad women perched on rocks in luminous, dreamlike settings. Despite the popularity of such imagery, he also painted pure landscapes, often for the calendar publisher Brown and Bigelow. The firm reproduced this work, Hunt Farm, with the title Daybreak as a calendar illustration in 1951 and on playing cards in 1962. The composition is an elaboration upon a site that Parrish knew in Windsor, Vermont, just across the Connecticut River from his home in Plainfield, New Hampshire. It is one of several views he painted of hilltop farm buildings and stately trees silhouetted against a radiant sky. He achieved his precise forms and glowing surfaces by first delineating an underpainting with black and gray media on a white, reflective ground. Rather than mixing his colors, he applied over the design multiple layers of different-colored transparent glazes, isolated by layers of varnish. In 1950 a group of supporters of Dartmouth’s library and art collections solicited this painting from Parrish, who lived roughly fifteen miles south of Hanover. In a letter to Mr. Price from the Metropolitan Museum of Art dated November 20, 1950, Parrish recalled, “The other day a Committee of Selection from Dartmouth College came down to select one [of my paintings] and pounced upon the one of their choice . . . all in ten minutes and took it away with them. The College couldn’t buy such things to be sure, but it was delicately inferred I give it.” In 1985 members of the Parrish family donated the artist’s extensive papers to Dartmouth as well.
Last Updated: 5/13/09