Reginald Marsh (1898 - 1954)
Three Women, 1938
Tempera on paper mounted on wood panel
8 x 5 1/2 inches
Initialed and dated at lower right: RM ‘38
Period combed gesso frame
Marjorie and Charles Benton, Evanston, Illinois
Reginald Marsh, known for his Depression-era portrayals of New York City life, was born in Paris to American parents, in 1898. He was raised in Nutley, New Jersey. His artistic career began during his student days at Yale, when he served as the editor and cartoonist for the Yale Record. After graduating in 1920, he spent several years working as an illustrator for various New York based periodicals. In 1925 he traveled to Europe to study. His life long ambition was to render contemporary life in the style of the Old Masters.
Returning from Europe in 1926, Marsh enrolled in classes at the Art Students' League in New York. His instructors included two of the first generation Ashcan School painters, John Sloan and George Luks, whose urban iconography came to exert an important influence on his art. Following this, Marsh went on to paint murals for the Post Office Building in Washington, D.C. and for the New York Customs House. However, he spent most of his time producing paintings, etchings, lithographs and drawings of such city themes as subways, burlesque halls, Bowery bums, amusement parks and leggy girls on 14th Street. Many of his pictures, executed in watercolor and egg tempera or brush and ink, consist of phantasmagoric views of crowds of people taking part in rowdy yet exuberant social rituals. Although his subjects often relate to those of the social realists of the day, Marsh chose to remain aloof from all political entanglement, making his ideas known only through his art.
Marsh taught at the Art Students' League from 1935 until his death in 1954 in Dorset, Vermont. His work, widely acclaimed during his lifetime, can be found in major public and private collections throughout the United States, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Art Institute of Chicago.