Tank Car Rail


Reginald Marsh (1898-1954), Tank Car Rail, 1929, etching, signed lower right and numbered 15 lower left margin [also signed and dated in the plate]. Reference: Sasowsky 86, fifth state (of 5). In very good condition, on cream laid paper with margins, 6 x 8 3/4, the sheet 8 1/8 x 11 inches, archival mounting.

A fine impression of this rarely seen image.

Marsh printed this personally, and worked on the plate extensively after creating areas of foul biting in the first state (foul biting occurs when acid gets through the etching ground and creates tiny holes in the plate, and resulting spots on the print). In his notes he writes that he “scraped, snaked and charcoaled this plate for hours.” He also added many lines in the sky and the smoke. The resulting gritty look, with tiny specks of black and lines of is perfectly appropriate for the subject matter.

Provenance: Kennedy Galleries, with their mat and label intact.

There are only about 18 impressions known of this print, and about 13 in this state. This was numbered 15 by Marsh; number 12 is in the Library of Congress, numbers 3, 5 and 6 in the New York Public Library Marsh estate collection.

In Thomas Craven’s Treasury of American Prints (1939), Marsh is quoted as saying in response to a question about the size of his editions: “Since I do practically all my own printing, I do not limit the edition. The buyer limits the edition – he rarely buys, I rarely print. I usually print fifteen or twenty and sell one or two in the next five years – so why limit the edition?” (That was in 1939; today of course Marsh’s etchings are treasured as icons of American printmaking in the ’20’s and 30’s.)