Lot 63
  • 63

Maxfield Parrish

300,000 - 500,000 USD
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Maxfield Parrish
  • Winter Night Landscape (Two Tall Pines)
  • inscribed and numbered No. 172 by Maxfield Parrish, Jr. (on the reverse)
  • oil on Masonite
  • 18 1/2 by 16 inches
  • (47 by 40.6 cm)
  • Painted circa 1956-58.


By descent in the artist's family


Tokyo, Japan, Isetan Museum of Art, and traveling, Maxfield Parrish: A Retrospective, April-May 1995, p. 148, no. 96, illustrated


Laurence S. Cutler and Judy Goffman Cutler, Maxfield Parrish: A Retrospective, San Francisco, California, 1995, p. 153, illustrated
Laurence S. Cutler and Judy Goffman Cutler, Maxfield Parrish and the American Imagists, Edison, New Jersey, 2004, p. 295, illustrated

Catalogue Note

In 1931, at the height of his popularity, Maxfield Parrish decided to abandon the figurative work that had made him a household name and devote his efforts entirely to landscape painting. The magical, detailed landscapes previously used as backgrounds for figurative works now became the primary subject; goddesses and nymphs were replaced by another ideal–the mountains, rolling meadows, grand oak trees, farmhouses, barns and open blue skies of the New Hampshire landscape. A 1931 newspaper article quoted the artist as saying: “I’m done with girls on rocks. I have painted them for thirteen years and I could paint them and sell them for thirteen more… It’s the unattainable that appeals. Next best thing to seeing the ocean or the hills or the woods is enjoying a painting of them” (as quoted in Maxfield Parrish: A Retrospective, San Francisco, California, 1995, p. 14). In the present work, Parrish returned to one of his favorite motifs: the two pines viewed directly from his artist's studio in Plainfield, New Hampshire.  This was a favorite motif for Parrish as there was a family of foxes that returned each year to their den in the bottom of one of the pine trunks to have their kits.

Parrish’s skill as a colorist is immediately apparent in the present work, in which each element of the scene is rendered with the calculated precision and intense palette that have become integral to his visual vocabulary.  His artistic process was labor intensive; he carefully layered colored glazes over a white ground, to give the impression of light shining through the hues. The initial impact is powerful and immediate; though closer examination reveals an almost delicate quality. For Parrish, nature was infinitely complex, reflected in his meticulous painting style, and he strove to transcribe its transient beauty in his work: “those qualities which delight us in nature–the sense of freedom, pure air and light, the magic of distance, and the saturated beauty of color, must be convincingly stated and take the beholder to the very spot” (Coy Ludwig, Maxfield Parrish, New York, 1973, p. 175).

Concurrent with this return to landscape as his primary subject, Parrish began to work in a smaller format, abandoning the 30 by 24 inch size he employed in the early 1930s. According to Coy Ludwig, “his smaller paintings seemed to him more aesthetically successful than his larger ones. It was a wise decision, for his brilliant, enamel-like surfaces and intricately detailed subjects called for the smaller size” (Ibid, p. 177).