Maxfield Parrish, the son of the painter, Stephen Parrish, was born in Philadelphia on 25th July, 1870. He was educated at the Haverford College, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the Drexel Institute, where he studied under Howard Pyle.
After his marriage to Lydia Austin he settled in Plainfield, New Hampshire. In 1895 Parrish designed his first cover for Harper's Weekly. As well as working for other magazines such as Collier's and Scribner's Magazine.
Parrish also provided the illustrations for a large number of books including Poems of Childhood (1889), Mother Goose in Prose (1897), Dream Days (1906), Tanglewood Tales (1910), The Golden Treasury of Songs and Lyrics (1911) and The Knave of Arts (1925).
Parrish provided the art work for posters and advertisements. His greatest success came with colour prints designed for the mass market. The Garden of Allah (1919) and Dawn (1920) sold in very large numbers. In the 1920s Parrish concentrated on fine art painting. Several of these works featured Susan Lewin. She had been initially hired at the age of 16 as a nanny. She eventually became his mistress and his wife left the family home.
In the 1930s Parrish's work, criticised as being too sentimental, went out of fashion. In 1931, he commented, "I'm done with girls on rocks", and decided to concentrate on landscapes. Though never as popular as his earlier works, he profited from them.
Maxfield Parrish died at the age of 95 on 30th March 1966.