Coney Island Beach #1


Reginald Marsh (1898-1954), Coney Island Beach #1, etching and engraving, 1939, signed in pencil lower right, also titled lower center margin [also with initials and date in the plate lower right]. Reference: Sasowsky 191, second state (of 2), from the total lifetime printing of about 17 (there were also the posthumous Jones and Whitney printings). In very good condition, slight toning in outer margins, printed on a cream laid Whitman paper, with margins (small loss lower right, slightly irregularly trimmed as typical of the proofs printed by Marsh), 9 5/8 x 11 3/4, the sheet 11 x 14 3/8 inches; silk window mat.

A fine early impression, with substantial burr evident from the touches of engraving.

Marsh made several visits to Europe, studying the Renaissance and Baroque artists. Coney Island Beach is remindful of many of the drawings and paintings he may have encountered there (including of course Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, e.g., the Last Judgment at the Vatican).

In this complex, monumental composition there is little well-defined horizon or conventional spacing. Near the top a woman is being tossed about by seven or eight men. Others seem to be piled on top of each other, in various poses. Several figures appear to be nude (such as the woman sitting lower right), and obviously Marsh saw this as a vehicle for demonstrating his ability to draw the human figure (there is a preliminary drawing of Coney Island Beach #1 in the Benton Collection).