Skip to main content

Reginald Marsh papers, 1897-1955

More Information

Jennifer Meehan
Scope and Contents
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.
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.
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.
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.
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
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.