May 14, 2012



Newport, RI – The National Museum of American Illustration (NMAI) announces a milestone exhibition for 2012 Summer Season – ‘Maxfield Parrish: The Retrospective,’ debuting Friday, May 25th, on display thereafter through September 2nd, 2012. During the Season, NMAI is open for General Admissions Friday through Sunday between 11am to 5pm, with a Guided Tour year-round on Fridays at 3pm. NMAI is otherwise open year-round for group tours by reservation.


(l-r) Maxfield Parrish in 1896 at age 26. Tallwood Pearl, 1955

The NMAI holds the world’s largest collection of Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966) original artworks, including his magnum opus ‘A Florentine Fete,’ consisting of 18 murals, each 10’ 8” tall, to his smallest work, a 1.5” Mother of Pearl piece (see above right) titled ‘Tallwood Pearl.’ Parrish is one of the most represented artists in the NMAI’s globally renowned American Imagist Collection, also featuring works by Norman Rockwell, J.C. Leyendecker, N.C. Wyeth, the Red Rose Girls, and 150 other luminaries.



Ask for Hires and Get the Genuine, 1921

Parrish’s career spanned nearly eight decades, with commissions ranging from early book and poster illustrations, to magazine covers (‘Morning,’ 1922, Life cover), art prints and commercial advertisements such as Hires Root Beer (‘Ask for Hires and Get the Genuine’ 1921), and General Electric (‘Venetian Lamplighters,’ 1924. Note the light bulb in cartouche with scrolls). His widely collected calendar art was published by Brown & Bigelow during the 1930s through the 1950s. This exhibition shows all aspects of this multi-talented illustrator’s career including a rare three-dimensional mixed-media mailbox asemblage, entitled Belles Lettres, experiencing its inaugural exhibition.

Belles Lettres, 1934



(l-r) Venetian Lamplighters, 1924. Morning, 1922.



A Florentine Fete, 1916

Maxfield Parrish’s astonishing Florentine Fete murals (1910-1916) were painted for the ‘Girls Dining Room’ at the Curtis Publishing Company in Philadelphia. A monumental part of NMAI’s permanent collection, they appear as if they were created for Vernon Court, fitting exactly on each wall, or in combination on larger walls, or on the huge expansive Rose Garden Loggia walls. A keen-eyed viewer easily notices Parrish’s favorite model, his mistress Susan Lewin, for she appears 166 times in these murals. Parrish himself appears 10 times, while an aunt and neighbor each appear once.  Sue Lewin is shown as male and female, albeit with different stances, hairstyles, and costumes. 


Susan Lewin, c. 1910




Isola Bella, 1904

Parrish was best known for romantic images with an unmatched richness, captured by his uncanny use of color incorporating ultra-saturated hues and often times an intense cobalt blue. Windsor & Newton Paint Company honored the artist by renaming their radiant cobalt color, ‘Parrish Blue.’ His paintings were created in alternating layers of single colors with transparent varnish layers in between, applied over a monochromatic underpainting. While this technique was superb for period reproductions using early four color printing (which his technique closely resembled), the resulting luminosity of the originals must be seen in person to be fully appreciated. Everyone marvels at his actual paintings while recognizing that his works are the most reproduced art images in history. In 1922, it was said that one in four American households had a Parrish art print on the walls.



Maxfield Parrish in 1956 at age 86


Due to popular demand, NMAI will continue to exhibit highlights from the incredibly successful Norman Rockwell: American Imagist travelling exhibition, recently acclaimed in England by The American Spectator magazine as “the best art exhibition in London for 2011.”  That exhibition will further tour in September to Alabama’s Birmingham Museum of Art. NMAI will also continue to highlight works from the first museum exhibition of illustrations by author Tom Wolfe, In Our Time, comprised of works from his book of the same title, satirizing 1970s American culture.

(l-r) The Bid. Norman Rockwell, 1948. Artistic Vision. Tom Wolfe, 1980

For more information, call 401.851.8949, ext. 18, or email



Follow Us





For Reservations:

Eric Brocklehurst
National Museum of American Illustration

492 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI 02840
T: 401-851-8949 ext. 18, F: 401-851-8974 


The Museum is open Fridays from 2pm to 5pm with a guided tour at 3pm sharp, and year-round for visitors and Group Tours by advance reservations. Beginning May 25 through Sept. 2, open for General Admissions Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, 11am to 5pm.



Adults: $18; Seniors (60+) & Military: $16; Students: $12; Children ages 5 to 12: $8. Children ages 5 to 12 are permitted only if they are vouchsafed by parents or guardians as being 'well-behaved.'



The National Museum of American Illustration is a nonprofit, independent, educational and aesthetic organization. It is located in Newport, RI, on Bellevue Avenue at Vernon Court (1898), a Carrére and Hastings designed Beaux-Arts adaptation of an 18th century French chateau. It is the first national museum devoted exclusively to American illustration art. Illustration consists of original artwork created to be reproduced in books, magazines, newspapers, and advertisements. 'Golden Age' paintings by such luminaries as Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish, NC Wyeth, JC Leyendecker, and 150 others are displayed in 'Gilded Age' architecture, creating a unique union of architecture and art - a national treasure. The Museum is administered by the American Civilization Foundation, a nonprofit organization with the goal to present the best possible venue for appreciating the greatest collection of illustration art - the most American of American art.



COPYRIGHT NOTICE: This email message and its contents are copyrighted and are our proprietary products. Any unauthorized use, reproduction, or transfer of this message or its contents, in any medium, is strictly prohibited.  

©  2012 National Museum of American Illustration.