Parrish also audited some classes of Howard Pyle at the Drexel Institute for a short period of time. Pyle reportedly told Parrish to develop his individual style because he had already mastered the technical aspect of illustration. At Drexel, Parrish met his future wife, Lydia Austin (1872-1953), who was an instructor at the school. They married in 1895 and moved to Twelfth and Spruce streets in Philadelphia. Within the month, Parrish departed alone for a two-month trip to Europe to visit the salons and museums.
In 1898, Maxfield and Lydia Parrish established a permanent home in Cornish, New Hampshire, where they built their famous house and studio at “The Oaks.” Parrish was stricken with tuberculosis in 1900 and spent his convalescence at Saranac Lake, New York, and at Hot Springs, Arizona, until April 1902. During his convaIescence he continued to paint and in 1903
spent three months on a working trip to Italy and France.
Parrish referred to himself as “a mechanic who paints.”The vases, columns, and other props used in his paintings were made in his own machine shop and were very carefully lighted before he began to paint. He was a meticulous draftsman and paid great attention to detail. Consequently, his work has a photographic quality. His fascination with color gives his illustrations an unreal characteristic suitable to his fairytale-like themes. His mastery of the technique of glazing provided an excellent complement to his use of color.
Parrish’s early works were marked by the use of gnome-like characters in medieval costumes. His compositions were densely packed, with castles and walled towers filling background areas. At the height of his popularity, he concentrated on romantic themes that combined medieval an s classical elements. By 1931, he had tired of themes of young maidens surrounded by rocks, trees, and water, and from then on his works were landscapes of rural scenes used mostly for calendar and greeting card illustration.