Maxfield Parrish endpapers for "Poems of Childhood" (1904)



End Papers
    For Poems of Childhood by Eugene Field
    Illustrations by Maxfield Parrish
    New York. Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1904.


    Image Size: H 9.375” x W 6.50”
    Matted & Framed:  H 15.375” x W 12.50”
    Framed Price: $265.00  
    Packaging and shipping approximately $22.00


Maxfield Parrish and his beautiful wife Lydia Austin moved from Philadelphia to New Hampshire in 1898, and the artist was settled in his studio at Cornish when he created the illustrations that appeared in Poems of Childhood.

            Coy Ludwig suggests that this was the best known of all the books MP illustrated. This may owe more to the appeal of the subject matter to children than to the characteristics of MP’s illustrations. According to Ludwig, “the idea to have Parrish illustrate Field’s poems originated with Edward Bok at The Ladies’ Home Journal. When Bok commissioned him to paint his interpretations of five of the poems for the magazine, Charles Scribner’s Sons arranged to use the five illustrations in a single volume of Field’s poetry.” [Maxfield Parrish. 31.] MP created his pictures in color, but the Ladies’ Home Journal reproduced them in B&W. When Scribner reproduced them the following year, it printed the paintings in their original color using a four-color halftone process.

            The endpapers MP created for this book are an interesting departure from MP’s other illustrations. They were not connected to a particular poem, nor were printed first in The Ladies’ Home Journal. It seems therefore added a level of creativity to them by stepping back into his fantasy world to find a subject that was both personally amusing and appealing to children (and their parents). He dramatized it by producing it in a three-color rotogravure process rather than in the four-color halftone process used to reprint The Ladies’ Home Journal illustrations.

            The illustrations MP created for Way and Williams 1897 edition of L. Frank Baum’s Mother Goose in Prose had been printed using a similar process. So had the stylized pictures he had created for the edition of Washington Irving’s Knickerbocker’s History of New York, which R. H. Russell published in 1900. What exactly he liked that caused him to reuse the process is not clear. Perhaps it was the texture of the images. Their granular quality gave the pictures unique “Maxfield Parrish” appearance.

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