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Reginald Marsh papers, 1897-1955

Marsh, Reginald, 1898-1954

Painter, Etcher, Cartoonist, Educator, Illustrator

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: 9.3 linear feet

Summary: 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 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.


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 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.