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Catalog Data

Marsh, Reginald, 1898-1954  Search this
Benton, William, 1900-1973  Search this
Kuniyoshi, Yasuo, 1889-1953  Search this
Marsh, Felicia Meyer, 1912-1978  Search this
Marsh, Fred Dana, 1872-1961  Search this
Powys, Llewelyn, 1884-1939  Search this
Schmidt, Katherine, 1898-1978  Search this
Woodhouse, Betty Burroughs, 1899-1988  Search this
9.3 Linear feet
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
The papers of Reginald Marsh (1898-1954) measure approximately 9.3 linear feet and date from circa 1897 to 1955. The collection documents the life and work of the artist, who was best known for his paintings and illustrations depicting scenes of vaudeville, night clubs, burlesque, and New York City. Marsh was a lifelong free-lance illustrator for the New Yorker, Esquire and many other national magazines. Papers include correspondence, diaries, notebooks, sketches, scrapbooks, business and financial papers, and photographs, as well as some biographical and printed material.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of Reginald Marsh (1898-1954) measure approximately 9.3 linear feet and date from circa 1897 to 1955. The collection documents the life and work of the artist, who was best known for his paintings and illustrations depicting scenes of vaudeville, night clubs, burlesque, and New York City. Marsh was a lifelong free-lance illustrator for the New Yorker, Esquire and many other national magazines. Papers include correspondence, diaries, notebooks, sketches, scrapbooks, business and financial papers, and photographs, as well as some biographical and printed material. Marsh's correspondence is typically with family, friends, artists, colleagues, dealers, government officials, publishers, greeting card companies, admirers and former students. Correspondence concerns both personal and professional matters, documenting his relationships with family and friends and his work on various projects ranging from book illustrations to the murals he executed as part of the Treasury Department Art Program. Diaries include those Marsh kept as an adolescent, those in which he recorded his technique and work on art, and those in which he recorded his daily engagements. Notebooks include ones on art, in which he recorded notes on particular works and on painting techniques, mediums and other processes; ones used as address books and to record notes on travel and art work; and ones on finances, in which he kept track of earnings from his stocks and art, as well as some student notebooks. Diaries and notebooks both document various practical aspects involved in the creation of Marsh's art work. Sketches include ones on loose sheets and scraps of paper and in sketchbooks, documenting some of the sources and recurrent themes of Marsh's art work, as well as shedding light on Marsh's process of creation. Scrapbooks consist primarily of clippings (illustrations, reviews, reproductions of art work) compiled by Marsh, documenting the publication, exhibition, and reception of his art work. Business and financial papers consist of paperwork (contracts, agreements, statements, receipts, permissions) relating to business matters, practical concerns, and financial aspects involved in handling his various art projects and in exhibiting and selling his art work. Photographs include ones of Marsh's family and friends, the artist at work (sketching around Coney Island and on the streets of New York), and his art work (some of which was compiled into volumes by Marsh and some of which was compiled by Norman Sasowsky). Also found are limited amounts of biographical material, including juvenilia, official documents, awards and certificates, writings, an appraisal of Marsh's estate, and catalogs of Marsh's art work, and printed material, including exhibition catalogs, clippings, and publications.
The Reginald Marsh papers are arranged as 9 series: Series 1: Biographical Material, 1910s-1955 (boxes 1, 11; 0.8 linear feet) Series 2: Correspondence, 1920-1954 (boxes 1-2, OV 12; 1.2 linear feet) Series 3: Diaries, 1912-1954 (box 3; 1 linear foot) Series 4: Notebooks, 1919-1954 (box 4; 0.8 linear feet) Series 5: Sketches, 1901-1954, undated (boxes 4-5, OV 12-21; 1.4 linear feet) Series 6: Scrapbooks, 1901-1954, undated (boxes 6, 9-11; 1.5 linear feet) Series 7: Business and Financial Papers, 1923-1954 (box 6; 0.3 linear feet) Series 8: Photographs, circa 1897-1908, 1920-1952 (boxes 6-8, 10; 1.3 linear feet) Series 9: Printed Material, 1931-1955 (boxes 8, 10; 0.2 linear feet)
Biographical Note:
Reginald Marsh was born in Paris on March 14, 1898. His father, Fred Dana Marsh, was a well-known muralist, and his mother, Alice Randall Marsh, was also an artist who painted miniature watercolors. Marsh returned with his family to the United States in 1900 and grew up in Nutley, New Jersey. After graduating from Yale University in 1920, Marsh moved to New York, where he worked as an illustrator for the New York Evening Post and Herald, Vanity Fair and Harper's Bazaar. Beginning in 1922, he worked as staff artist at the New York Daily News doing a cartoon review of vaudeville and burlesque. During the 1920s, he designed theater curtains for the Greenwich Village Follies and other theater productions, and became one of the original cartoonists at The New Yorker after it was founded in 1925, actively working for the magazine until 1931 and regularly contributing drawings from time to time after that. In 1923, Marsh married Betty Burroughs, who was the daughter of the curator of painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and herself a sculptor. They divorced in 1933, and he married his second wife, Felicia Meyer, a landscape painter, in 1934. In the early 1920s, Marsh began to study painting and attended classes taught by John Sloan and Kenneth Hayes Miller, among others, at the Art Students League in New York. He made several trips to Europe, once in 1925-1926 and again in 1928, to study the old masters in the museums. In 1929, he began to paint in egg tempera. He also worked in watercolor, painting several large compositions in 1939-1940. In the 1940s, he studied the "Maroger medium" with Jacques Maroger and began to use this emulsion technique in his paintings. In addition to painting, he also worked in lithography, etching, and engraving. Marsh had his first one-man show of oils and watercolors at the Whitney Studio Club in 1924 and another show of lithographs there in 1928. He had one-man shows of his watercolors at the Valentine Dudensing Galleries in 1927, the Weyhe Gallery in 1928, and the Marie Sterner Galleries in 1929. In 1930, he had his first show of paintings at the Rehn Galleries, where he regularly exhibited for the next two decades. In 1935 and 1937 respectively, Marsh was commissioned by the Treasury Department Art Program to paint two murals in the Post Office Department Building in Washington, D.C. and a series of murals in the rotunda of the Customs House in New York. Beginning in 1935, Marsh taught drawing and painting at the Art Students League. In the summer of 1946, he was guest instructor at Mills College, Oakland, California, for six weeks. In 1949, he was appointed head of the Department of Paintings at Moore Institute of Art, Science, and Industry, Philadelphia and taught advanced painting there in 1953-1954. Beginning in the mid-1930s, some of Marsh's art work began to be reproduced on greeting cards issued by the American Artists Group and Living American Art, Inc. He also did illustrations for editions of Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie (1938), John Dos Passos's USA (1945) and Adventures of a Young Man (1946), and Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper (1946), among others. He continued to do freelance illustrations for magazines, including Esquire, Fortune, and Life. Notably, he served as an artist correspondent for Life during the Second World War, and traveled to Brazil in 1943 to draw the army installations there. Marsh was the recipient of various awards throughout his career, including the M. V. Kohnstamm Prize from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1931, the First W. A. Clark Prize and Corcoran Gold Medal from the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., in 1945, and the Gold Medal for Graphic Arts of the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1954. Marsh died of a heart attack in Dorset, Vermont on July 3, 1954. This biographical note draws heavily from information originally printed in the catalogue of the Reginald Marsh Retrospective Exhibition organized by the Whitney Museum in 1955.
Related Material:
The Archives holds several collections of different provenance that relate to Reginald Marsh, including Felicia Meyer Marsh and Meyer Family Papers (available on reels 2082, 2087-2090, and 4474-4475), Fred Dana Marsh illustrated letters (available on reel 3134), Norman Sasowsky Research Material on Reginald Marsh (partially available on reels 1195 and 1463-1464), and Reginald Marsh Printed Material, consisting of two yearbooks from Lawrenceville School donated by Alvin Macauley who was a classmate of Marsh (not available on microfilm). In addition, a portion of the materials loaned and microfilmed in 1963 on reel NRM 19, including several small paintings, are housed in the Pierpont Morgan Library.
Separated Material:
The Archives of American Art also holds material lent for microfilming. Some of the material loaned for microfilming in 1963, including the bulk of Marsh's sketchbooks and some anatomy sketches, was subsequently donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Public Library, and Whitney Museum of American Art. Other loaned material, including several small paintings, was from the Pierpont Morgan Library. Most of the files of clippings that were donated to AAA with Marsh's papers were transferred to the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery Library in 1979. Even though this material is not technically part of the collection housed in AAA, copies are available on microfilm reels NRM3-NRM17 (sketchbooks and sketches), NRM 19 (material from the Pierpont Morgan Library), NRM 20 (small paintings), and 2233-2234 (clippings). A portion of the material donated to AAA with the Reginald Marsh papers has been separated to create a new collection of Felicia Meyer Marsh and Marsh Family papers. Loaned and transferred material is not described in this finding aid.
A large portion of the Reginald Marsh papers, including diaries, notebooks, sketchbooks, and photograph albums, was lent for microfilming in 1963 by Marsh's wife, Felicia Meyer Marsh. Some, but not all, of this material was subsequently donated to AAA in 1979, after the death of Mrs. Marsh, along with some additional material, including notebooks, scrapbooks, biographical and printed material. Another portion of the collection, comprised mainly of correspondence and a catalog of Marsh's art work, was donated in 1964. Three items of Marsh juvenilia were donated in 1984 by Alice Heffernan. Sketches that Mrs. Marsh bequeathed to the Whitney Museum were donated to AAA by the museum in 1987, along with 5 sketchbooks previously lent. Later gift portions were microfilmed.
The bulk of the collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website. Use of material not digitized requires an appointment.
The Archives of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions. AAA makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce and publish the collections. Please refer to the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for additional information.
Etchers -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Muralists -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Illustrators -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Painters -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Art -- Philosophy  Search this
Painting, American  Search this
Painting -- Technique  Search this
Reginald Marsh papers, 1897-1955. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
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Reginald Marsh papers
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Archives of American Art