Daybreak (painting)

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Daybreak by Parrish (1922).jpg
ArtistMaxfield Parrish
Year1922 (1922)
Dimensions67.3 cm × 114 cm (26.5 in × 45 in)

Daybreak is a painting by American artist Maxfield Parrish made in 1922. Daybreak is regarded as the most popular art print of the 20th century, based on number of prints made: one for every four American homes. According to the National Museum of American Illustration, it has outsold Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup Cans and Da Vinci's Last Supper.[1] It is still in print.

Parrish referred to Daybreak as his "great painting," the epitome of his work.


Measuring 26.5 by 45 inches (67.3 cm × 114 cm),[2] the painting employs a formal layout similar to a stage set, with two feminine figures. Painted using preparatory photographs, the models were his regular models, Kitty Owen (granddaughter of William Jennings Bryan), Parrish's daughter Jean, and Susan Lewin. Only two figures appear in the completed painting, though pencil studies indicate that the artist originally intended a third near the righthand column.[3] The composition is arranged on the principle of "dynamic symmetry" popularized by Jay Hambidge.[3]

Record purchase price[edit]

The painting has always been in private ownership. On May 25, 2006, Daybreak was purchased by a private collector (Mel Gibson's then-wife, Robyn) at auction at Christie's for US $7.6 million. This set a record price for a Parrish painting. It was sold again on May 21, 2010, for US$5.2 million.

In popular culture[edit]

  • In 1995, Michael Jackson produced a music video, "You Are Not Alone", featuring himself and his then wife, Lisa Marie Presley, in which they appear semi-nude in emulation of Daybreak.
  • The Bloom County comic book Penguin Dreams and Stranger Things features a cover with many elements of Daybreak and other works by Parrish.
  • The Dalis Car album cover The Waking Hour uses a detail from Daybreak.
  • The Moody Blues 1983 album The Present features cover artwork that uses a variation of Daybreak.
  • A 1986 Nestle television commercial for Alpine White features one scene imitating Daybreak and another resembling Parrish's Ecstasy.
  • The Saint Preux album The Last Opera also uses Daybreak for its cover.
  • Daybreak in O'Bryonville (2009) is a Cincinnati mural designed for ArtWorks by contemporary artist Kate Holterhoff. Parrish's flowering vine motif figures prominently in Holterhoff's mural.
  • The film poster for 1987 The Princess Bride (film) appears to have been directly inspired by Daybreak.


  1. ^ "Press Release". The National Museum of American Illustration. July 5, 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-02-11.
  2. ^ Gilbert, Alma (1992). Maxfield Parrish: The Masterworks. Berkeley, California: Ten Speed Press. p. 165.
  3. ^ a b Ludwig, Coy (1973). Maxfield Parrish. Watson-Guptil. p. 142.

External links[edit]