Monday, December 15, 2014

REGINALD MARSH at AUCTION and SALE I - Sotheby's, Bonhams, Questroyal

Biography - Questroyal Fine Art, LLC, New York, New York

By Chelsea DeLay

Born in Paris on March 4, 1898, Reginald Marsh was the progeny of two talented artists: Fred Dana Marsh, a painter specializing in industrial scenes, and Alice Randall, a painter of miniatures.(1) Two years after the artist’s birth, the Marsh family decided to leave France for America, settling in Nutley, New Jersey. Growing up, Reginald had a well-to-do education afforded to him on behalf of a wealthy grandfather, who paid the artist’s tuition to Yale. Marsh embraced the collegiate lifestyle and an artistic direction while working on one of the student publications, Yale Record, where he met lifelong friend William Benton. After graduating from Yale in 1920, Marsh moved to New York, where he studied at the Art Students League; he gained an impressive amount of experience painting and drawing under an impressive faculty of instructors, including John Sloan, George Bridgeman, George Luks, and most importantly, Kenneth Hays Miller.

Immersing himself within the teeming life of New York City, Marsh job as a staff artist for the New York Daily News led him to explore the underbelly of society: Trolling the streets of Lower Manhattan, he gleaned inspiration from the burlesque shows along Bowery Street, storefront windows and advertisements, and the beaches of Coney Island. The defining quality of Marsh’s work was his satirical approach to portraying what would otherwise be Gotham’s most sinister subjects, and Miller encouraged the artist to focus on the buxom women of Bowery, telling Marsh, “Sex is your theme.”

Given that the nearly one third of the artist’s oeuvre captured the spirit of modernity in the form of burlesque dancers, it is apparent that Miller’s assertion rang true. In 1922, Marsh enrolled briefly in the Art Students League, where he met the Betty Burroughs, whose father was a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  The couple married one year later, which marked the point in Marsh’s career when he began painting seriously; his efforts were awarded in 1924, when the Whitney Studio Club offered the artist his first one-man show.

The first time Marsh traveled abroad since his infancy occurred in 1925, when the artist and his wife traveled to Europe; the artist’s French encounter with the Baroque style resulted in a definitive shift in his artistic approach. His began to crowd his compositions with figures, infusing them with a sense of chaos, mayhem, and overindulgence that added an overwhelming vitality to each individual piece. Marsh’s paintings incorporated intense, sketch-like brushstrokes, while his etchings began to demonstrate a frenzied attention to detail to physical and architectural attributes.

Upon his return, Marsh resumed an acquaintance with his past instructor Kenneth Hays Miller, whose influence helped the artist synthesize the form and design qualities typical of the Baroque era with the immediate and raw life of New York City. During the late 19th and 20th centuries, Union Square appealed to many members of Manhattan’s burgeoning bourgeois class, and in 1926 Marsh joined the myriad of artists working in one of the 14th Street studios.

When the market crashed in 1929, Marsh was captivated by the devastating poverty that spread through New York City; he justified his artistic focus on the wreckage and survivors of Black Tuesday by explaining, “This world [of poverty] had greater human and pictorial value than respectable society.”

Marsh’s marriage to Betty ended in 1932, but the artist was quick to remarry one year later: Felicia Meyer, a painter fifteen years younger than Marsh, became the second wife of the artist. This  occurred right around the time that the government began to revive public artwork in federal buildings, and Marsh was one of twelve artists selected for two important commissions: the first, a pair of frescoes in the US Post Office, and the second, a series of eight paintings in the New York Customs House, which portrayed an ocean liner arriving into a New York port.

These works were stylistic outliers for Marsh, and the artist soon reverted back to his traditional elements, the “garish colors, excessive detail, limited space, awkward poses, and ludicrous costuming” that were so typical in his burlesque and Coney Island scenes.

These defining aspects of Marsh’s style made a fan out of William Benton, a former peer from Yale. A close friend of Marsh, Benton began collecting the artist’s work in 1934, and sometimes acted as his informal dealer. Their relationship thrived on the college humor and playboy subjects in Marsh’s works, and Benton once described, “I like Marsh’s paintings for the same reason that I like Marsh. I like their lustiness, vitality, their marvelous craftsmanship, their love of life, their verve and zest.” Benton was not the only one to take notice of the dark humor in the sexually-charged paintings by Marsh; critics described his work as “sumptuous and sexy,” “swirling,” “things of strange allure,” “tumultuous,” and “grossly satirical pictures of unbuttoned sexuality.”

Marsh continued to paint through the later years of his life, but also began to take on a more educational role: in the summer of 1946, he taught summer classes at the Art Students League, and later accepted a position as the head of the Paintings Department at the Moore Institute of Art, Science, and Industry in 1949. However, Marsh’s life was unexpectedly cut short in 1954 on July 3, Marsh suffered a fatal heart attack and passed away in Dorset, Vermont at the age of 56.

1898 Reginald Marsh born in France on March 4, to parents Fred Dana Marsh and Alice Randall
1900 Marsh family leaves France and settles in Nutley, New Jersey
1916- 1920 Marsh attends and graduates from Yale, where he worked as an illustrator for The Yale Record
1922-25 Staff artist for New York Daily News
1923 Marries first wife Betty Burroughs
1924 After a year of painting seriously, Marsh was offered his first solo show of oil paintings and watercolors at the Whitney Studio Club
1925-26 Traveled to Europe
1929 Begins to paint in egg tempera
1931 Awarded the M.V. Kohnstamm Prize from the Art Institute of Chicago
1933 Divorces Betty Burroughs
1934 Marries painter Felicia Meyer
1935 Commissioned by the Treasury Department Art Program to paint two murals in the Post Office Department Building in Washington, D.C.
1935-54 Teaches at the Art Students League
1937 Commissioned by the Treasury Department Art Program to a series of murals in the rotunda of the Customs House in New York
1940s Experiments using the “maroger medium” with Jacques Maroger
1945 Awarded the W.A. Clark Prize and Corcoran Gold Medal from the Corcoran Gallery of Art
1946 Awarded the J. and E.R. Pennel Purchase Prize by the Library of Congress for Girl Walking
During the summer, the artist taught drawing and painting at the Art Students League
1949 The Moore Institute of Art, Science, and Industry appoints the artist as head of the Department of Paintings
1954 Awarded the Gold Medal for Graphic Arts by the American Academy and the National Institute of Arts and Letters
July 3, Marsh suffers a fatal heart attack and passes away in Dorset, Vermont at the age of 56 years old

Sotheby's 2013



Estimate   3,000 — 5,000
Lot Sold   7,500

Sotheby's 2012


Estimate 5,000 — 6,000 USD


Estimate 5,000 — 7,000

Reginald Marsh

Men an Women at Play Coney Island

Reginald Marsh

Estimate 300,000  500,000


Estimate 5,000 - 7,000 
Lot sold 3,125


LOT SOLD. 95,500 

1898 - 1954
Estimate 70,000 — 90,000

Sotheby's 2008


LOT SOLD. 17,500 


LOT SOLD. 11,875 

Bonhams November 19, 2014

Off to the Movies, Love Affair is Playing! 

Bonhams 2012

Reginald Marsh (American, 1898-1954) 
Ocean liner, 1936 
14 x 20in
US$ 3,000 - 5,000

Reginald Marsh (American, 1898-1954), Dockyard, November 2, 1927, 
signed and dated, watercolor and pencil on paper, 
13 3/4 x 20 inches, framed and glazed
US$ 4,000 - 6,000

Reginald Marsh (American, 1898-1954); 
Girl Walking (Elevated);
Sold for US$ 1,500 

Reginald Marsh (American, 1898-1954)
 Study of a sculptural group 
15 1/4 x 22 3/4in
US$ 3,000 - 5,000

Reginald Marsh (American, 1898-1954) 
Seated woman in subway 
4 3/4 x 4in
Sold for US$ 1,250

Bonhams 2011

Reginald Marsh (American, 1898-1954)
 Three women standing on a corner, 1942 
10 x 8in
Sold for US$ 12,200 

Bonhams 2009

Reginald Marsh (American, 1898-1954) 
18 3/4 x 14 3/4
US$ 8,000 - 12,000

Bonhams 2008

Reginald Marsh (American, 1898-1954); 
Third Avenue El;
US$ 1,000 - 1,500

Reginald Marsh (American, 1898-1954); 
Coney Island Beach;
Sold for US$ 360 

Reginald Marsh (American, 1898-1954) 
Carousel Horses, 1937 
14 1/4 x 20in
Sold for US$ 9,600

Reginald Marsh (American, 1898-1954) 
Two Girls on a Boardwalk, 1946 (double-sided) 
30 1/4 x 21 1/2in
Sold for US$ 14,400

Reginald Marsh (American, 1898-1954) 
Band and figures on a New York harbour pleasure cruiser
Sold for £696 (US$ 1,089)

Bonhams 2007

Reginald Marsh (American, 1898-1954) 
Woman Reading 
4 x 3in
US$ 2,000 - 3,000
Bonhams 2006

Reginald Marsh (1898-1954) 
Stop All China Trade: McCarthy 
10 x 8in
Sold for US$ 21,510

Questroyal Fine Art, LLC, New York City

Reginald Marsh (1898–1954) The Locomotive Ink and watercolor on paper 9 1/2 x 13 1/2 inches Signed twice lower right: Marsh

Reginald Marsh (1898–1954) Standpipe, 1948 Watercolor on paper with charcoal 22 7/8 x 14 5/8 inches (sight size) Signed and dated lower right: REGINALD MARSH 1948

Reginald Marsh (1898–1954)
The Barker, 1931
Etching on paper
9 15/16 x 7⅞ inches (plate size)
Signed and dated lower right on plate: MARSH 1931

Reginald Marsh (1898–1954)
Locomotive, 1929
Watercolor and pencil on paper
13 15/16 x 20 inches
Signed and dated lower right: Reginald Marsh 1929

Reginald Marsh (1898–1954)
Off to the Movies, Love Affair is Playing!, 1939
Watercolor and gouache on paper
27 7/16 x 19⅝ inches (sight size)
Signed and dated center right: REGINALD MARSH ‘39

Reginald Marsh (1898–1954)
Tunnel of Love, 1943
Oil on board
24 x 36 inches
Signed and dated lower right: Reginald Marsh 1943

Bernard Goldberg Fine Arts 

Reginald Marsh
Untitled (Lady in Red), 1950- 1951