Reginald Marsh (1898-1954), Merry-Go-Round, etching, 1930, signed in pencil lower right and numbered “24” lower left. In very good condition, with margins (cut irregularly, and with some ink smudges, as is customary for prints printed personally by Marsh). Printed in black on an ivory laid paper. Reference: Sasowsky 99, sixth state (of 6); an estimate of about 50-60 impressions printed (surely an exaggerated estimate). 6 7/8 x 9 3/4, the sheet 8 1/2 x 12 1/2 inches, archival matting.
Downtown Gallery, with their stamp verso, and stamp dated Nov. 12, 1931.
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Crossett, with their stamp verso (not yet in Lugt). A substantial part of Crossett’s distinguished and large print collection is now part of the Mead Museum collection at Amherst College.
A fine rich impression of this iconic Marsh image.
One would suppose that the girls on this merry-go-round should be amused; after all this is just a ride at an amusement park (presumably Coney Island, in New York City). But in fact they’re terrified – the horses are wild, ferocious beasts, and then there’s that frightening creep on the horse toward the right. Perhaps Marsh is making a social statement (as well as a wonderful aesthetic one), here at the dawn of the Great Depression.
By this stage in his career Marsh was routinely eliminating the ground from his compositions, and heightening their impact by directly confronting the viewer with the action at eye level. The merry-go-round motif became a favorite for Marsh, and he returned to it a number of times in the late ’30’s and early ’40’s, both in etching and painting.
Merry-Go-Round was one of the plates selected by the Whitney Museum for re-printing in a Whitney-stamped edition of 100 long after Marsh’s death, as part of a fund-raising effort; these lifeless re-strikes fail to capture the vitality and richness of the lifetime impressions.