This is Maxfield Parrish’s landscape, Christmas Eve, painted in 1946. Parrish (1870-1966) lived most of his life in Plainfield, NH, and was one of the most popular illustrators and artists in the country. He became famous and rich during his early career for magical and fairy tale-like prints that showed up as posters, on calendars, in magazines and even on chocolate boxes. Here is his print Dawn, which in the 1920s was reputed to be in one of every four US homes:
But in 1932, he said he wanted to stop painting “pretty girls on rocks” and paint things that made his heart sing. So he started painting landscapes. They were of New Hampshire and Vermont scenes, like his Christmas Eve painting above, and I find them quite beautiful.
His New England scenes were his own idealized versions of the hills and field, mountains and streams – generally not based on a particular view. He responded to one letter writer by saying, “No, that picture isn’t of any place in particular, just sort of a composite of New Hampshire Mountains in general. However, it has brought about a trying situation, in that many people declare they know exactly that spot, and it is a bit embarrassing to know what to tell them. I am for invariably agreeing with each party – but I don’t know, it might make trouble. I am ever so glad you like it – that is the main thing.”
Here is Maxfield Parrish’s Christmas Morning, painted in 1949:
If you drive down along the NH side of the Connecticut River, on Route 12A from Lebanon to Plainfield and Cornish, you are on New Hampshire’s Maxfield Parrish Highway.
And wherever you are tonight, and tomorrow, whether on a visit with friends or relations, or safely tucked in at home, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas. And keep your eye out for whatever makes your heart sing.