Maxfield Parrish: Master of Make-Believe

by Alma M. Gilbert



About the author

The nationally touring exhibition Maxfield Parrish: Master of Make-Believe is curated by the author, a long-time Parrish scholar and dealer. Alma Gilbert-Smith's career as an art historian began when her family moved to California where she maintained three important galleries dedicated to investment art. There she organized Parrish exhibitions beginning in the early 1970s. In addition to the essay for this catalogue, she has written several other books including Maxfield Parrish: The Masterworks; Maxfield Parrish: The Landscapes; Maxfield Parrish: A Treasury of Art and Children's Literature; The Make Believe World of Maxfield Parrish and Sue Lewin; A Place of Beauty: The Artists and Gardens of the Cornish Colony, and Cornish Colony Book of Days. She is married to Peter W. Smith from Concord, MA. The couple has chosen to live and retire at The Oaks, the former home of Maxfield Parrish.[1]


About the catalogue

Maxfield Parrish: Master of Make-Believe, published in 2005 by Philip Wilson Publishers, Ltd., London in association with the Trust For Museum Exhibitions, is a 136-page fully-illustrated catalogue accompanying the exhibition of the same name, organized by The Trust For Museum Exhibitions. The exhibition is touring nationally in 2005 and 2006. The essay by the author is contained within pages 11 through 118 of the catalogue. ISBN 0 85667 601 2 (right: front cover, Maxfield Parrish: Master of Make-Believe)


About the Trust For Museum Exhibitions

The Trust For Museum Exhibitions is a Washington, D.C. based non-profit service organization committed to providing the finest in exhibitions and technical support to museums and cultural centers throughout the U.S. and abroad.


Resource Library editor's notes

The above essay was reprinted, without accompanying illustrations, on June 21, 2005 in Resource Library with permission of the author and The Trust for Museum Exhibitions. If you have questions or comments regarding the essay or wish to purchase a copy of Maxfield Parrish: Master of Make-Believe, please contact The Trust for Museum Exhibitions directly through either this phone number or web address:

Resource Library extends its appreciation to Ms. Diane C. Salisbury, Director of Exhibitions, and Ms. Elizabeth A. Old, Assistant Director of Exhibitions, Trust for Museum Exhibitions, for their help in securing permissions from the author and the Trust for reprinting of this essay.

RL readers may also enjoy these additional articles and essays:

and these videos:

Maxfield Parrish  26 minute / 1998 / CH - Having one of the most recognizable and beautiful illustration styles of the twentieth century made Maxfield Parrish's works among the most reproduced of all. This biography traces his life and influences from childhood and underscores his importance in the commercial arts, flirting often with the fine arts, with over 100 brilliant images from his body of work. (courtesy of Virginia Museum of Fine Arts)
Parrish Blue is a 27 minute film that was produced in 1967, shortly after the death of the popular American artist/illustrator Maxfield Parrish. It's a rare film, made when his home and studio in Cornish, New Hampshire, were just about as he left them at age 96. His son, Maxfield Parrish, Jr., and artist and friend, Norman Rockwell, share their understanding of this man who dominated the popular arts in early 20th-century America. We glimpse much of Parrish's work...from magazine covers to advertisements; from huge murals to decorative prints; from book illustrations to note cards. Many of the originals were available to the film makers. The film itself is a transfer from a recently discovered "answer print" and shows its age through scratches and grain as it develops an engaging portrait of a supremely talented "character" who touched so many people with his unique vision. Also available as a DVD.

1. Alma Gilbert-Smith's biographical information is obtained from combined sources including the catalogue Maxfield Parrish: Master of Make-Believe

Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the Trust for Museum Exhibitions in Resource Library.


Go back to

Index of Essay Sections


1. Early Works: 1895-1910

2. Parrish and Photography

3. The Models

4. The Murals

5. Color Lithography: 1917-22

6. The Peak Years and the Magnum Opus: 1918-30

7. The Move to Landscapes

8. Twentieth-Century Icon: Parrish's Influence on American Art


The following photograph from TFAO's photo library allows readers of the above essay to view an image of the Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge, "the longest covered bridge in the United States" referenced in 7. The Move to Landscapes.

(above: Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge, 2013. Photo by John Hazeltine)

Visit the Table of Contents for Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art.

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