Aug 15, 2019

Coney Island Beach

Coney Island Beach


Reginald Marsh

(American, 1898–1954)


Gift of George W. Sanford 1938.232

Catalogue raisonné: Sasowsky 159



No corner of New York City escaped Reginald Marsh’s observation, but his favorite subject was the beach of Coney Island, where, he said, “a million near-naked bodies could be seen at once, a phenomenon unparalleled in history.” The human pyramids in both of these compositions imply ample physical touching, and, indeed, critics described Marsh’s beach crowds as “vulgar, sweating, bestial.” The toppled pyramids and twisting forms recall Renaissance paintings, such as Michelangelo’s Battle of Cascina from 1504. Unlike Michelangelo, however, Marsh tended to focus on the buxom siren or femme fatale, a trope of Hollywood cinema in the 1930s.

See also
PR - Etching
Type of artwork: 

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance, may not be currently accurate. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

All images and data available through Open Access can be downloaded for free. For images not available through Open Access, a detail image, or any image with a color bar, request a digital file from Image Services.