Hauptmann Must Die

Hauptmann Must Die

Reginald Marsh (American, 1898-1954)

Currently on View in K205
Image Licensing

Marsh was one of the foremost Social Realists of the 1930s, portraying scenes of New York urban life. He employed a graphic, linear technique to bring individuality to the characters he depicted.

The newspaper headline refers to the sentencing of the convicted kidnapper of Charles Lindbergh’s baby.

Marsh combined contemporary subjects with the use of media (such as egg tempera) and techniques derived from his study of European Old Master painters.

Topical Subject Matter with Old Master Techniques

Reginald Marsh was born in Paris to artists Fred and Alice Marsh, and he grew up in the United States. Marsh’s parents encouraged him to draw before the age of three. He studied at Yale University and contributed illustrations to the Yale Record. Marsh also worked in the art departments of Vanity Fair and the New York Daily News. He studied in Paris for a year in 1925. After receiving a tutorial from Thomas Hart Benton in 1929, he adopted egg tempera and used this medium continuously throughout the 1930s. Marsh was an urban realist, who depicted society’s lower class. A prolific printmaker, he created 236 etchings, lithographs, and engravings. Marsh was a member of a small group of artists, which included Isabel Bishop, Moses and Raphael Soyer, and their teacher Kenneth Hayes Miller. The group’s name, the Fourteenth Street School, derived from their focus on scenes of daily life around Union Square on 14th Street in New York, which was also the site of the Art Students League.

The headline and title of the topical painting Hauptmann Must Die refer to the judgment passed on the convicted kidnapper of Charles Lindbergh’s baby. Each figure is sharply delineated in this painting of the dingy waiting room at Pennsylvania Station in 1935. Drawing was always foundational in Marsh’s methodology. He employed a graphic style, which individualized nameless travelers in its adherence to detail. He subjects were inspired by everyday life, yet his technique was indebted to the Old Masters.

Cohen, Marilyn. Reginald Marsh’s New York: Paintings, Drawings, Prints and Photographs. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, 1983.

Goodrich, Lloyd. Reginald Marsh. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1973.

The artist; the widow of the artist; left to the museum by bequest

Object Information

Reginald Marsh (American, 1898-1954)
creation date
egg tempera on masonite
27-3/4 x 35-3/4 in.
34 x 42 in. (framed)
accession number
credit line
Bequest of Felicia Meyer Marsh
© Reginald Marsh/Artists Rights Society (ARS)
American Painting and Sculpture to 1945

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