Confused about R. Atkinson Fox? Parrish the Thought!

Around the 1930s, artist Maxfield Parrish's advertising art, calendar art and decorative prints for the home became so popular, a number of imitators came onto the scene. One of these, Chester K. Van Nortwick, we've talked about before. (Click here to check out that post.) But one of the more well-known of the Parrish "imitators" was R. Atkinson Fox. And Fox proved to be a versatile and prolific artist in his own right.

Today, with the prices for early Parrish prints in the hundreds of dollars, collectors have turned to the works of R. Atkinson Fox to capture a similar decorative look and feel-- often at more affordable prices. I've managed to get Fox prints for as little as $5-$65 at flea markets, antique malls and those rare times they show up at thrift stores. Antique shops most often will price them at around $125, though they can be seen well up to $300, the common price for a Parrish. (And no, I do not buy them then--as you know, I am cheap.)

The subject matter of R. Atkinson Fox prints touches on many of the elements we're familiar with in Parrish paintings. The craggy orange mountains in the background... the paintbrush shaped trees... the "enchanted" girls lounging in magical settings... the skies and water of amazing blue.

Vendors can often be seen implying a Fox or other imitator is a Maxfield Parrish (I've lost count the amount of times I've seen a Van Nortwick or Robert Wood listed as, "Fox? Parrish?" and sporting a hefty price tag, as well!)

But you can see a difference between the typical Parrish print and those of R. Atkinson Fox. Parrish's work has a bit more interaction with the characters in the scene. They tend to seem more expressive and engaged with telling a story, whereas Fox's girls tend to have less expression and interaction, are often solitary and appear to be there more for aethetic purposes rather than the emotion they convey. Often, too, they are seen more at a distance than Parrish's characters.

Here for instance is Parrish's The Lute Players...

And this is Fox's Sunset Dreams...

Notice the Greek toga-styled costuming of the girls in Parrish's print, while Fox's girl is in dress typical of the 1920s/30s. This isn't always a way to tell them apart, but it's a useful cue.

You can see the use of distance at work here in Fox's The Valley of Enchantment...

This picture is more about the beauty of the garden and the figures with the pigeons than it is about telling a particular story.

In additon to the "enchanted girl" prints which are my personal favorites, Fox painted hundreds of landscapes, rural scenes, cows, dogs, horses, portraits, western art, hunting scenes, and historical figures.

And for Fox collectors, one of the most intriguing-- and challenging-- facets of his work is that a portion of it does not even appear under his own name. The book R. Atkinson Fox and William M. Thompson Identification and Price Guide by Patricia L. Gibson lists a number of pseudonyms under which Fox painted-- sometimes at the publisher's request to make it appear the publisher had a wider range of artists working for them. And sometimes simply because Fox didn't care for how the painting had turned out and didn't want his name on it.

Known Fox pseudonyms include:

  • J.H. Banks
  • G. Blanchard Carr or B. Carr
  • John Colvin or J. Colvin
  • Arthur DeForest or simply DeForest
  • Dupre
  • Elmer Lewis
  • Muson, H. Musson, Ed. Musson or Edw. Musson
  • George W. Turner
  • Wainright, Charles Wainright, Chs. Wainright, C.N. Wainwright, C. Wainright, C. Wain, F. Wainright, Thos. Wainright or simply Wainwright
  • George White, George W. White, George White
  • George Wood

Note, George Hood, Robert Wood and George Hacker are NOT R. Atkinson Fox pseudonyms-- they are separate artists who often employ a similar style.

Confusing, I know!!

For more information on R. Atkinson Fox, check out the R. Atkinson Fox Society here. They're an avid group of collectors and are very helpful in identifying true Fox prints.

And with that-- and hopefully little more knowledge about one of the popular artists of the 1930s-- I leave you today... And we sail off into the sunset...

  • Or here, to see last Sunday's post on the Regent Square Neighborhood Yard Sale.

Have a happy Memorial Day and a picture perfect week.


white o'morn cottage said...

I love the twenties style lady one. You know your stuff! Cheers...Pam

ThriftShopRomantic said...

Hey, thanks, Pam!

I figure information like this can help folks in their decision-making when choosing to buy pieces like this.

So the more informed we all are on the market, the better choices we can make.

Carrie said...

I appreciate this art history lesson. Thaky you very much.

ThriftShopRomantic said...

Carrie- Thanks for visiting! Hope you're having a great holiday weekend.

Rosemary said...

Well my dear Jenn,
Thank you so much for the art lesson. I was not familiar with these, so I learned a lot.
I was very busy yesterday hosting a BBQ. I did not get around to your blog until today.
I always learn new things from you.
It's great!

Debbie said...

Hi Jen....this is a great post! I am a fan of both artists and can pretty well tell them apart, but not always.....I had no idea that Fox painted under so many other names though! Hope all is well with you. :)


ThriftShopRomantic said...

Rosemary- Sounds like you had a great fun weekend with the barbecue! Yum! Here's hoping the rest of the week treats you well, too.

Debbie- Yup, Fox had a number of fake names, which can really keep you on your toes when you see prints in this style under unfamiliar names. Quite a fun thing, playing detective!

Robert said...

I have a G. Blanchard Carr work that was given to my grandmother in June 1927 as a wedding gift. This painting is still in the original frame with a paper back. I have not been able to find a copy of this art any where. Would like to find out more info on this piece.

Bob Bailey

ThriftShopRomantic said...

Robert- I apologize I only just saw this now. Is this an actual painting, or a framed print? I do have a book that shows some of the more common prints of Atkinson Fox's pseudonyms if you could either email me a photo of the print or describe it to me.

Jeff said...

Have you ever heard of Henri Reynard as a pseudonym for Atkinson Fox ? I have a print titled "Loves Echoes" by Henri Reynard. Looks like an Atkinson Fox work to me but Reynard is not listed as a pseudonym.


Thrift Shop Romantic said...

Jeff- Yes, I have, and I've seen it as both seriously considered one of his pseudonyms, and I've also heard folks suggest it isn't one. It looks like the R. Atkinson Fox Society hasn't officially listed Reynard as one of Fox's pseudonyms.

I agree, though, the style is extraordinarily similar.

Anonymous said...

I recently acquired a G.Blanchard Carr print of flower covered cottage on a lake with white picket fence,stone walk,stone porch steps, with wood planks on the porch floor. The front door is open and there looks like mountains in the background, past the lake. It is 13.5X 9.5 and in an old painted frame with flowers in relief on each corner. It is backed with corrugated cardboard. It appears old! Do you recollect a print described like this and what is it titled?? It is signed and was done by Morris & Bendien, inc. NY....What would something like this be worth?? Thanks

Jenn Thorson said...

Sandy- Is the cottage with the open door very close up and on the left side of the print? And is the lake behind it in this distance? If so, it's probably the one listed in R. Atkinson Fox and William M. Thompson Identification and Price Guide by Patricia L. Gibson...

That one is called "Cozy Cottage.". It's listed as being a 14X10 and the estimated price is $125.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if you know the name of the first print you show at the top of this post?
Thanks :)