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Reginald Marsh papers, 1897-1955

Reginald Marsh papers, 1897-1955

Marsh, Reginald, 1898-1954

Cartoonist, Painter, Educator, Etcher, Illustrator

Representative image for Reginald Marsh papers, 1897-1955

The papers of Reginald Marsh that were scanned by the Archives of American Art in 2006. The bulk of the papers have been digitized and total 9,241 images. Items typically not scanned include typescript copies of published art catalogs that are widely available elsewhere, transparencies, photographs of works of art, and scattered clippings and printed material.

Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Collection Information

Size: 8.5 linear feet

Summary: The papers of Reginald Marsh (1898-1954) measure approximately 8.5 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 including his relationships with his father, Fred Dana Marsh, his first wife, Betty Burroughs, and his second wife, Felicia Meyer Marsh, as well as his relationships with friends and colleagues, including the English writer, Llewelyn Powys, the artists, Yasuo and Katherine Kuniyoshi, and the U.S. Senator (and former Yale classmate), William Benton, who ended up being one of the largest collectors of Marsh's work, 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.

Biographical/Historical Note

Reginald Marsh (1898-1954) was a painter, illustrator, and etcher from New York, N.Y. Marsh was a lifelong free-lance illustrator for the New Yorker, Esquire, and many other national magazines. Best known for his scenes of vaudeville, night clubs, burlesque, and New York City. After his divorce from sculptor Betty Burroughs in 1933, he married painter Felicia Meyer in 1934.

Provenance

Material on reels NRM 1-NRM 20 lent for microfilming 1963 by Marsh's widow, Felicia Meyer Marsh. In 1964 she donated material on reels D308-D309 and the 3 v. Marsh catalog (unfilmed). Material on reels 2233-2235, 2238 and unfilmed were donated 1979 after Mrs. Marsh's death in 1978, along with some material previously lent, including diaries, desk calendars, notebooks and correspondence (reels NRM 1-NRM 3), photograph albums (7 v.) and photos of works and statements from Rehn Gallery (NRM 17-18). Sketchbooks (NRM 3-17) were given to Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art and New York Public Library; NYPL also received the anatomy drawings and photos of New York locales. 3 items on reel 3829 (NRM 17) donated by Alice Heffernan, 1984. Drawings on reels 4473-4475 were bequeathed to the Whitney Museum of American Art by Felicia Meyer Marsh, and donated to AAA in 1987, including 5 sketchbooks previously lent. All materials were reprocessed and merged into a new arrangement in 2005, except for the loaned materials available only on microfilm.

Related Materials

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.

Funding

Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Location of Originals

  • Reels NRM 19-NRM 20: Originals returned to Felicia M. Marsh after microfilming.
  • Reels NRM 3-17, Some sketchbooks and anatomy drawings only: Originals in Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Public Library and Whitney Museum of American Art. See Finding aid for disposition.
  • Reels NRM 19-20: Originals in Pierpont Morgan Library.

A Finding Aid to the Reginald Marsh Papers,
1897-1955
, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.marsregi
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.
Arrangement
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)
Provenance
Material on reels NRM 1-NRM 20 lent for microfilming 1963 by Marsh's widow, Felicia Meyer Marsh. In 1964 she donated material on reels D308-D309 and the 3 v. Marsh catalog (unfilmed). Material on reels 2233-2235, 2238 and unfilmed were donated 1979 after Mrs. Marsh's death in 1978, along with some material previously lent, including diaries, desk calendars, notebooks and correspondence (reels NRM 1-NRM 3), photograph albums (7 v.) and photos of works and statements from Rehn Gallery (NRM 17-18). Sketchbooks (NRM 3-17) were given to Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art and New York Public Library; NYPL also received the anatomy drawings and photos of New York locales. 3 items on reel 3829 (NRM 17) donated by Alice Heffernan, 1984. Drawings on reels 4473-4475 were bequeathed to the Whitney Museum of American Art by Felicia Meyer Marsh, and donated to AAA in 1987, including 5 sketchbooks previously lent. All materials were reprocessed and merged into a new arrangement in 2005, except for the loaned materials available only on microfilm.
Location of Originals
  • Reels NRM 19-NRM 20: Originals returned to Felicia M. Marsh after microfilming.
  • Reels NRM 3-17, Some sketchbooks and anatomy drawings only: Originals in Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Public Library and Whitney Museum of American Art. See Finding aid for disposition.
  • Reels NRM 19-20: Originals in Pierpont Morgan Library.
Processing Information
The Reginald Marsh papers received preliminary processing as separate accessions between 1964 and 1984; most of the papers were microfilmed on reels D308-D309, NRM1-NRM20, 2234-2235, 2238, 3829, and 4473-4474. All gift portions of the collection were merged and fully processed, arranged, and described by Jennifer Meehan in 2005, and scanned, with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Additional Forms Available

The bulk of the collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website. Items that typically have not been digitized include typescript copies of published art catalogs that are widely available elsewhere, transparencies, miscellaneous photographs of works of art, scattered clippings and printed material, and any duplicated material.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Reginald Marsh papers, 1897-1955. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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