Paris, December 1, 1884

Illustrated letter from Maxfield Parrish to Henry Bancroft, Paris, December 1, 1884

Written from Paris, this multi-paged letter wanders from describing the pulled-chain movement of French barge boats to the types of birds and animals available at the local bird market. In addition to the serious images Parrish includes a top-hated and waistcoat wearing bird carrying a package of ‘hooey’, or nonsense, with him as he returns from the market.

In this letter are drawings of men dressed as inanimate objects-- a chess piece and a bottle of lager-- engaged in a sword fight. They are similar to illustrations accompanying an article in January 1885 St. Nicholas magazine by Elizabeth Pennell, wife of American artist Joseph Pennell, about the “London Christmas Pantomimes.” The Pennells were close friends with Stephen Parrish’s family.

Illustrated letter from Maxfield Parrish to Henry Bancroft, Paris, December 1, 1884

Like the other decorated envelopes there are a variety of wonderful vignettes, but none more charming than the scampering black mice running along the bottom edge with the last one sitting on his haunches shaking his “finger’ at the cat chasing them. Over the back flap Parrish included a hefty lock, but this time instead of drawing a corresponding key he drew a wall plaque with these words, “The key will be found at the College.” And best of all, around the area for the stamp he has drawn a hinged box.

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