Oil on canvas, 18.63 x 24.88 inches/Signed lower right
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Portrait and landscape painter Malcolm Parcell was born in Claysville, near Washington, PA. In 1902 the Parcell family moved to Prosperity, near Washington, Pennsylvania, where one of his childhood haunts was an old cabin hidden in the woods near his home. His older brother, Evans, was to become a well-known illustrator and whose illustrations appeared in many of the popular magazines of the time. Parcell took art instruction at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie-Mellon University) from 1913 to 1917. There he studied under landscape painters Arthur Watson Sparks, and George Sutter. In 1918, his painting, “Trinity Hall,” was awarded first prize at the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh exhibition. Parcell made a trip to New York City in 1919 to visit his brother who was an illustrator for Scribner’s magazine, and spent a year painting church murals, making architectural renderings, and stage sets. That same year his portrait of Helen Louine Gallagher, known as “Miss Gallagher” or simply, “Louine,” won the Saltus gold medal of the National Academy of Design in New York City. While in New York he had asked well-known Impressionist landscape painter, J. Alden Weir, whether he should stay in New York or return home. Weir advised him to return home to Washington--but not before he purchased one of Parcell’s paintings. The homesick young man gladly followed his advice, returned to Washington, PA and set up business portrait painter, never wanting for commissions or sales. In 1922 Parcell exhibited eight paintings at the McBeth Gallery in New York and one painting at the International Exhibition of Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh. In 1923, he exhibited ten paintings at the Gillespie Gallery in Pittsburgh and all sold within three days. Parcell went on to exhibit at the Carnegie Internationals and won the popular in prize in 1924 for “My Mother” and in 1925 for “Portrait Group,” a painting which featured “Louine.” The old cabin from his childhood became his studio in 1925 and over the years, he would add a rambling assortment of rooms. He christened it “Moon Lorn” and would paint the thick woods surrounding it, often with ethereal or fantasy creatures shown dancing among the trees. His friend Peter West said of him “his home and environment were Gothic”. Parcell was, by the 1930s, an established and successful artist—he was given a one-man show at the Carnegie Institute in 1935. He married his dark-eyed model Helen “Louine” Gallagher in 1937. In 1942 he was appointed director of art at Washington and Jefferson College (Washington, PA), a position he held for many years. During the 1950s abstraction and expressionism came to the forefront of the art world and Parcell’s style of painting fell out of fashion. He recognized that the trend was toward modernism; however, he said “it but it doesn’t bother me because if I had looked at some of the modern art when I was young, I don’t think there would ever have been a desire for me to be an artist.” Nonetheless, he continued to paint and sell his paintings.