Maxfield Parrish was born on July 25, 1870, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. He was a son of Quakers Stephen Parrish, an accomplished painter and etcher in his own right, and Elizabeth Bancroft coming from a family of machinists. Both parents had artistic leanings. Raised in the artistic atmosphere, Maxfield who revealed his passion for drawing at an early childhood had to hide his own sketching talent because of the Quaker taboo against creating graven images. However, his parents encouraged their son’s natural aptitude for sketching.
Christened Frederick at birth, Maxfield Parrish was called Fred by friends and family. Entering the art world, he added his paternal grandmother's maiden name, Maxfield, to his own, and it was that name by which the rest of the world knew him.