Oil on board, 1947. 250x203 mm; 9 7/8x8 inches. Signed and dated in oil, lower left recto.
Provenance: James Vigeveno Galleries, Los Angeles, with the partial label verso; Christie's New York, March 10, 1989, lot 353; private collection, New York.
Shinn (1876-1953) is considered to be a proponent of the Ashcan School or "The Eight" and like some of the artists in this group, documented the vibrant theater and vaudeville communities. While living in Philadelphia, Shinn performed in intimate amateur productions put on by friends such as William Glackens, Robert Henri, and John Sloan. Once in New York, Shinn continued this practice and created a small theater in his home, cofounding the "Waverly Street Players" with Glackens). He befriended notable actors and theater patrons such as Elsie de Wolfe, Julia Marlowe, Clyde Fitch, David Belasco, and Stanford White, leading him to take on several commissions. During the period between 1917 and 1923, Shinn devoted himself full time to set designs and art direction for theater and movie productions. In his painted New York scenes, Shinn emphasized the exchange between performer and spectator, which at times leaves a feeling of alienation. In his so-called "glimpses of stage life," Shinn painted from the back-lit perspective of behind the stage, casting his acrobats and performers in highlights and shadows. The viewer is at once a voyeur as well as part of the spectacle. In his later career when represented by Feragil Gallery, New York and by James Vigeveno in Los Angeles, Shinn revisited his love of entertainment and focused primarily on clown paintings, like the present work.