London, July 22, 1884

Illustrated letter from Maxfield Parrish to Henry Bancroft, London, July 22, 1884

Parrish’s earliest European letter to Henry is illustrated with a street-side Punch and Judy performance. The viewing crowd is comprised of all ages and types: a country hick, children, parents, fighting cats, and an Indian man wearing a salwar and carrying a wash board. While Punch and Judy were certainly known in the United States, this street-side performance marks it as a British experience.

Throughout Parrish’s correspondence spiders are scribed hanging by a thread from various letters and other drawn forms. A spider that appears out of nowhere can cause a waiter to spill the contents of his serving tray, or may serve as an enticement for a young gosling. Another repetitive aspect is Parrish’s use of drawn smoke, steam, dust, and fog to imply an obscured view. On this page the drawing of a gentleman wearing a fez smokes a cigarette. As the billowing smoke rises through the letter it all but obscures the word ‘city’ in the text. To give this impression, Parrish wrote the word using a dotted line surrounded by the lines indicating smoke.

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London, July 22, 1884