Rue Blondel #2, 1928


Reginald Marsh
American, b. France 1898-1954

Rue Blondel #2, 1928
lithograph chine colle on wove paper
8 1/4 x 12 inches
Collection purchase
Syracuse University Art Collection, 1964.068

© The Art Students League of New York/ Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York

Rue Blondel, #2 depicts a parlor house where several nude prostitutes mingle with customers. Parlor houses were upscale, elegantly appointed brothels that offered not only sex but also alcohol and live music. In the foreground two women awkwardly dance with each other to piano music. While Marsh is best known for his representations of life in New York, he also periodically visited and created works about Paris. The artist was born there in 1898, but his American parents returned to New Jersey when the artist was two. Marsh returned to Paris in 1925 and felt an immediate connection to the vibrant, bohemian city. Just as he depicted prostitutes in New York City, the artist was drawn to this subject in Paris, where a sex economy also thrived. As in New York, the majority of prostitutes came from working class families, and thus prostitution was not necessarily a choice but an economic solution. Marsh’s lithograph candidly and unemotionally portrays the realities of “working women”. He shows neither disapproval nor approval as he was there as a casual observer to take in all that happened or, as he said, to watch “the best show… the people themselves.”

Bridget Williams



The Best Show is the People Themselves: Reginald Marsh’s New York