‘Daybreak’ Records

Yes, the pun was intended.

The cover for these albums are a portion of Maxfield Parrish’s ‘Daybreak’, helping to cement that illustration’s place as the most reproduced artistic image of the 20th century, and possibly ever.  Is it ironic that the most reproduced image of the last one hundred years features a nude young girl, given the extant moral panic over child nudity in art?  Only if you are utterly ignorant of the last several hundred years of art history.  At any rate, there are at least three that I know of.

Dalis Car (or Dali’s Car) is the first; this band’s singer was Peter Murphy (formerly of Bauhaus, though he’s been a solo artist for quite some time now) and it released only one album, The Waking Hour, before it broke up.  Murphy and multi-instrumentalist Mick Karn briefly reunited in 2010 to begin recording a new album for the band, though it was never fully realized, as Karn contracted cancer and passed away in January of 2011.  There was enough material, however, for an EP, which is set to come out next month.


Maxfield Parrish – Dalis Car – The Waking Hour (cover)

The next one was for an album by French composer Saint-Preux called The Last Opera.  Classical-style music isn’t really my thing so I can’t tell you whether this is any good or not.  There appear to be two different versions of this album cover, but I couldn’t find a high-quality copy of both of them, only one.

Maxfield Parrish - Saint-Preux - The Last Opera (cover)

Maxfield Parrish – Saint-Preux – The Last Opera (cover)

The last is for the Moody Blues, a band I grew up on as my dad was a fan.  This one isn’t an exact copy of the illustration but rather a reworking of Parrish’s design by someone else.  I don’t know who.

The Moody Blues - The Present (cover)

The Moody Blues – The Present (cover)

Edit: In researching this piece further, I came across an interesting analysis of it by Scott M. McDanielJay Hambridge developed a theory on the concept of dynamic symmetry invented by the ancient Greeks (see: golden ratio and golden rectangle)—it’s all very mathematical and precise, but it works very well in application to design. Given Parrish’s classical setting for “Daybreak” it makes sense that he would utilize dynamic symmetry for this piece. Note also that this scene fits the theme of the classical idyll, which we’ve discussed here before. For that reason I’m also assigning this work in the Neoclassical category.

Wikipedia: Maxfield Parrish

Wikipedia: Saint-Preux

Wikipedia: Dalis Car

Wikipedia: The Moody Blues


From Reverend Benjamin M. Root IV on March 8, 2012
I’ve never been sure whether the nude in that painting was a young boy or girl. I’d say it’s androgynous in the same way that Bouguereau’s Cupid painting is (though we assume cupid is a male, you couldn’t be sure by looking). Is there historical reference to it being a girl?

From pipstarr72 on March 8, 2012
Refer to the first link in the article (which happens to be to the very first post I made on my blog)—it is most definitely a girl. The model for the girl was Parrish’s own daughter, Jean. She posed for a few other pieces around the same time, in which you can see that her hair is rather short in all of them. You’ll also note that there are subtle cues that this is a female child, if you look closely.

We’ll Always Have Parrish: Maxfield Parrish’s “Daybreak” and Others

One of the most recognized names from the Golden Age of illustration, Maxfield Parrish is known primarily for producing remarkable images of nature and fairy tale illustrations.  His most famous and highly valued work is “Daybreak,” painted in 1922, which shows a nude, slightly pubescent young girl leaning over a young woman who reclines on the floor of the portico of a Greek temple.  Thus, the setting is classical, and in keeping with the Greeks’ attention to symmetry, the painting is itself highly symmetrical, with two columns dividing the piece into a self-contained triptych.

It’s fitting that Parrish should be the first artist featured on the blog, as he holds the reputation for being the most reproduced artist in the entire history of art, and “Daybreak,” as I said, is his most notable work.  That in itself is fascinating enough, but more can be said of the painting, particularly its models (who may well be considered the most reproduced youngsters in art history.)  The younger girl was his daughter, Jean Parrish, whereas the older girl was, in fact, a composite of two different people.  The body was that of Sue Lewin, his housekeeper and friend and another recurring model throughout his work.  The face, however, belonged to Kitty Owen, a companion of Jean’s and the granddaughter of statesman William Jennings Bryan.

Maxfield Parrish – Daybreak (1922)

Maxfield Parrish – Daybreak (1922) (detail)

Before she was captured in that famed pose in “Daybreak,” Jean Parrish had already been used as the model for the little girl resting on the edge of the pool in “Egypt,” part of a series created for the Edison Mazda calendars, and a year after that (fully clothed this time and confidently facing the viewer) in “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary,” which accompanied the nursery rhyme of the same name.  I’m not aware of any other paintings for which Jean posed, but it seems likely that I’m overlooking a few.  I am not, in any case, fully versed in Parrish’s entire catalog of works.

Maxfield Parrish – Egypt

Maxfield Parrish – Egypt (detail)

Maxfield Parrish – Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary (1921)

These two images are the wrong dates to have been Jean.  The first may be Kitty, who was a few years older than Jean, but I haven’t a clue who the model for the second image might have been.

Maxfield Parrish – Girl with Elves (1918)

Maxfield Parrish – What They Talked About (1899)

There are a ton of online resources for Parrish and his work. Here are a couple:

Maxfield Parrish Online Gallery

Wikipedia: Maxfield Parrish