Mar 19, 2009

Alarums and Excursions

The Golden Age

Alarums and Excursions


Maxfield Parrish

(American, 1870–1966)

Brush and black and gray wash, with white gouache, over graphite, framing lines in pen and black ink

Support: Beige wove paper

Sheet: 37.5 x 24.8 cm (14 3/4 x 9 3/4 in.); Image: 27.9 x 17.7 cm (11 x 6 15/16 in.)

Bequest of James Parmelee 1940.723


Did you know?

Parrish employs a technique called sgraffito (“to scratch”) on the serpent’s tongue, producing its mottled texture by scraping away the upper layer of paper.


Alarums and Excursions is one of nineteen illustrations the young Maxfield Parrish created for Kenneth Grahame’s The Golden Age, a children’s book published in 1899. In the chapter Alarums accompanies, the narrator persuades a friend to join him in a make-believe of Arthurian legends. Parrish depicted one of the boys in the midst of their playful fantasy, as he prepares to strike an enormous, coiled serpent. Parrish rendered the scene in crisp detail, using flat, delicate washes of monochrome ink, strong linear contours, and scintillating pricks of white gouache on the boy’s chainmail. Parrish’s designs found mainstream success in a variety of print media, making him one of the best-known illustrators of the twentieth century.

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