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Maxfield Parrish's Masterpiece Daybreak Opens at NMAI
Maxfield Parrish, Daybreak, oil on board, 1922.

NEWPORT, RI.- The National Museum of American Illustration announces today that Maxfield Parrish’s record-setting masterpiece, Daybreak, will be on loan to the Museum this summer for a period of seven weeks. This announcement comes on the heels of Daybreak´s May 25, 2006 auction at Christie’s, in which its sale set a new record for a work by Maxfield Parrish of $7.6 million dollars. Now privately owned, the loan of Daybreak to the NMAI presents the only opportunity available to the public to view this masterpiece before it enters a closed collection. Daybreak will be on exhibit through August 25, 2006. To celebrate this milestone exhibit, the NMAI will offer special weekends of general admissions in addition to our daily guided tours available by reservation Mondays through Fridays.

“The recent results of America illustrators at auctions this spring has confirmed their importance in American art. Works by Maxfield Parrish and Norman Rockwell set new records at auction, indicating the current level of respect and appreciation of these artists, and this genre, today,” explains the Museum’s Director and Co-Founder, Judy Goffman Cutler. “Although the loan of DAYBREAK was arranged with little advance notice, we are thrilled beyond belief to offer to the public the only opportunity to view this work. DAYBREAK has been privately held since 1922 and only rarely exhibited to the public in the last 80 years. In conjunction with Daybreak, we have arranged the loan of other significant works by Parrish- MY DUTY TOWARDS MY NEIGHBOR/ MY DUTY TOWARDS GOD, DREAM GARDEN and PRESENTATION PIECE FOR THE FLORENTINE FETE 'A Call To Joy'. Like DAYBREAK, MY DUTY TOWARDS MY NEIGHBOR/ MY DUTY TOWARDS GOD is also entering a private collection after being exhibited at the NMAI.”

In 1922, Maxfield Parrish produced DAYBREAK, which he referred to as ‘the great painting’. Distributed as an art print through the House of Art, DAYBREAK became the most successful art print of the last century and secured Parrish’s position as the most popular illustrator after the First World War. In composition it resembles a stage set, which is appropriate, since Parrish loved the theatre and had designed a number of sets for masques in Cornish, New Hampshire as well as for a New York performance of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. It was laid out according to dynamic symmetry using photographs of Kitty Owen, his daughter Jean and Susan Lewin as models, posed amidst a backdrop of architectural elements, columns, urns, and fantastical landscape. The print was the sensation of the decade and was displayed in one of every four American homes. It is said to be the most reproduced art image in history, surpassing THE LAST SUPPER and Andy Warhol’s soup cans.

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