Reginald Marsh


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(b Paris, 14 Mar. 1898; d Dorset, Vt., 30 July 1954).

American painter. Until 1930 he worked mainly as a newspaper illustrator, but he took up painting seriously after a study trip to Paris in 1925–6, and in the 1930s he became well known for his paintings depicting shabby and tawdry aspects of life in New York. His favourite subjects included Coney Island, the amusement arcades of Times Square, and the cheap and grubby streetlife of the Bowery district (Tattoo and Haircut, 1932, Art Inst. of Chicago). Although he was capable of bitter satire against the complacency of the wealthy, his work generally shows a love of depicting teeming life through ugly but colourful subjects rather than a desire for social protest. His aim was to represent contemporary subjects in the manner of the Old Masters and he worked mainly in tempera, also experimenting with other venerable techniques. He came from a wealthy family and to some extent his work expressed a rejection of the affluent and genteel circumstances in which he grew up.

Subjects: Art.

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