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William Samuel Parrott

American, 1844-1915


Missouri 1844




Goldendale 1915

Occupation or Type



Northwest artist

Oregon artist


Born in Missouri, William Samuel Parrott arrived in Oregon with his family in 1847. He had a natural talent for drawing and as a child had a strong desire to reproduce scenes in color. At first he used wildflowers for paint pigment, cloth or bark for canvas and strands of his sister Jane's hair for brushes. He opened his first studio in the old National Bank Building in Portland in 1867. Students who claimed to have studied with him, often just observed him at work; although there are artists who paint in his style, the so called "Parrott School" probably does not exist.

Parrott closed his Portland studio in 1887 to travel the wilds of Oregon, Washington, and California. His years of solitude in the mountains made him something of a recluse, often moody and temperamental. It was rumored that he would not sign any paintings he gave as gifts, to insure they would not achieve the commercial value of his signed works. According to family records, he eventually settled in Oakland, California with his second wife, Sue Hendershott Parrott, also a painter of some renown. When his health began to fail in 1911, he returned to the Northwest where he spent the years until his death with his sister Jane in Goldendale, Washington. Another sister Elizabeth Parrott Pond, was a well-known Washington state artist.

His mountain landscapes were very popular and were commissioned more than any subject. Variations of Sunrise over Mt. Hood from Lost Lake, with his recognizable atmospheric effects, appear in many collections. One of his paintings of Mt. Hood hung in the Louvre while other mountain canvases can be found in museums and collections worldwide.

Artist biography reproduced with permission from the authors, Oregon Painters: the First Hundred Years (1859-1959), Ginny Allen and Jody Klevit.



Related People

Teacher of: Eliza Barchus (American, 1857-1959)

Teacher of: Grace Fountain (American, 1858-1942)

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