Untitled Document

Artist Biography

Reginald Marsh was an important urban realist painter of New York City. Despite his somewhat exalted upbringing—academic artist parents; schooling at Lawrenceville Academy and Yale University—Marsh was preoccupied with decidedly low subject matter. His vivid, emotional paintings of vaudeville and burlesque shows, crowded subways and tenements show the influence of his National Academy teachers: members of the Ashcan school, George Luks and John Sloan. He loved the city, not only the activity and energy of its inhabitants, but the broader aspects: its skyline, bridges, waterfronts, and harbors. In the 1920’s and 1930’s he sketched from Brooklyn, Governors Island and the Staten Island Ferry, and from these vantage points he successfully captured the grandeur and magic of the island of Manhattan.

Marsh began drawing at a young age. When he graduated from the Yale Art School in 1920, he moved to New York and worked as a free-lance illustrator for Vanity Fair and
Harper’s Bazaar, roaming the streets with his sketchbook or camera looking for subject matter. In 1925, Marsh took a job with the New York Daily News creating cartoon reviews of vaudeville and burlesque shows. When the New Yorker was founded, Marsh became one of its original cartoonists. Marsh was a successful artist during his lifetime, and enjoyed the patronage of Connecticut Senator William Benton. He was also commissioned to paint murals for the United States Post Office in Washington D.C., and the Customs House in New York City.

His works hang in renowned public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, National Gallery of American Art, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Philadelphia, Art Institute of Chicago, and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.