Tempera on Masonite
Framed: 107.3 x 86.4 x 4.5 cm (42 1/4 x 34 x 1 3/4 in.); Unframed: 90.8 x 70.5 cm (35 3/4 x 27 3/4 in.)
Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 2006.137
© Estate of Reginald Marsh / Art Students League, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Marsh kept meticulous records, indicating that he created this painting between September 5–24, 1934.
Contrasting the real lives of everyday people with the reel lives of movie stars, this painting portrays a working-class woman standing by a Times Square theater in front of a large poster advertising Cecil B. DeMille’s blockbuster movie Cleopatra, starring Claudette Colbert in the title role. Enormously popular, such film spectacles offered escapist glamour, romance, and power amid the challenges of the Great Depression. Yet, despite the distraction of the city and its entertainments, the woman remains weary and essentially alone in the crowd.
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