Reginald Marsh (1898-1954)
Property from The Westervelt Company, formerly The Gulf States Paper Corporation
Reginald Marsh (1898-1954)

Merry-Go-Round: A Double-Sided Work

Reginald Marsh (1898-1954)
Merry-Go-Round: A Double-Sided Work
the reverse, signed and dated 'Reginald Marsh 1943' (lower right)
oil on board
24 x 29¾ in. (61 x 75.6 cm.)
[With]Galleries Maurice Sternberg, Chicago, Illinois.
Acquired by the present owner, 1982.
South Bend, Indiana, South Bend Art Center, American Masterpieces from the Warner Collection, December 9, 1989-February 4, 1990.
Montgomery, Alabama, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Impressions of America: The Warner Collection of Gulf States Paper Corporation, June 18-July 28, 1991.
Memphis, Tennessee, The Dixon Gallery & Gardens, Impressions of America, November 15, 1992-January 24, 1993.

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Lot Essay

Few American artists delighted in the character and vitality of New York City as Reginald Marsh did. His work, which almost exclusively features New York, is a vibrant social and historical chronicle of the city throughout the decades of the 1930s, 40s and 50s.

While New York provided countless entertaining subjects to study, Marsh preferred to paint Coney Island. Unlike other New York landmarks that were recorded time and again by other artists from various schools, Coney Island was a yet-undiscovered subject when Marsh began to paint it. "Early in his career [Marsh] fell in love with Coney Island and became the first painter to fully exploit its flamboyant wonders--the crazy humor of Luna Park, the freaks and macabre images, the ceaseless movement of merry-go-rounds and revolving bowls, the breath-taking flight of swinging chairs, the babel of signs, and the surging holiday crowds--a wealth of fantastic imagery that gave him subjects all his life." (L. Goodrich, Reginald Marsh, New York, 1955, p. 9)

Merry-Go-Round is exemplary of Marsh's works that monumentalize and glorify the entertainment and boisterous crowds at Coney Island. "Marsh's crowds were not made up of faceless robots; they were individuals sharply characterized, with a gift for catching the traits that made each one unique. His eye was not gentle: he made the most of the vulgar lushness of the girls, the slick coarseness of the young men, the grotesqueness of the of fat middle age, the downright ugliness of a large part of the human race. His people were alive, and one need only look at an average subway crowd to see how faithful to reality his vision was, with an allowance for artistic license...." (Reginald Marsh, p. 9)

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