Maxfield Parrish poem illustration for "Poems of Childhood" (1904)


The Little Peach
    Illustration for Poems of Childhood
    by Eugene Field. 
    Illustrations by Maxfield Parrish
    New York. Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1904.
    Originally printed in B&W in
       The Ladies’ Home Journal
       March 1903 Issue.


    Image Size: H 9.375” x W 6.50”
    Matted & Framed:  H 15.375” x W 12.50”
    Framed Price: $185.00  
    Packaging and shipping approximately $22.00


The first book MP illustrated was Frank Baum’s Mother Goose in Prose, which Way and Williams of Chicago published in 1897. Since its appearance coincided with Howard Pyle’s announcement that he had nothing more to teach the young artist (who attended his illustration classes at Drexel Institute), perhaps HP made came to this conclusion after perusing Mother Goose and deciding that MP was a designer rather than an illustrator. Whether or not this was the state of the affair, the pictures MP created for Baum’s Mother Goose and for the books he illustrated after that were smashingly successful.

            During the next three years, MP executed three more book projects. In 1900, he illustrated an edition of Washington Irving’s Knickerbocker’s History of New York published by R. H. Russell. He followed this with two children’s storybooks by Kenneth Grahame, The Golden Age and Dream Days. In these turn-of-the-century works, MP stepped back into the fantasy world he created in the Old King Cole mural he had done for UPenn’s Mask and Wig Club in 1894.

The artist and his beautiful wife Lydia Austin moved from Philadelphia to New Hampshire in 1898, and MP was settled in his studio at Cornish when he painted “The Little Peach.” The picture contains a background landscape of the countryside beyond MP's compound rather than a scene from his fantasy world. His models were the children of his friend, Winston Churchill (not that Winston Churchill). I do not know why he posed them as he did.

            Coy Ludwig suggests that the book in which the picture appeared, Poems of Childhood, was the best known of all the ones MP illustrated. 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.] “The Little Peach” appeared in black and white in the March 1903 issue of the Ladies’ Home Journal. When Scribner reproduced it in the following year, it printed MP's painting in its original color using a four color halftone process.

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