- Historic Sites
A reminiscent tribute to a great American painter, with an evocative selection from thousands of unpublished sketches
October 1972 | Volume 23, Issue 6
Marsh worked very hard and he accomplished his mission. With the advantage of hindsight I think I should have realized that he was nearly done. He said to me one day, “I’m beginning to repeat myself.” On one of my last visits to him I found him at work on familiar subject, the Coney Island steeplechase. A British sailor and a girl are astride the wooden horse that races along a rail. The girl is blithe and smiling, as usual, but the sailor has died and the horses in a medicine Triumph of Death. Its eyes are rolling, and its nostrils are distended. “I can’t finish it,” Marsh said. “It’s dead and I’m going to throw it away.” He had taken a gray pigment and painted out the background, leaving sailor, girl, and horse isolated. “Don’t throw it away,” I said. “Give it to me.” He handed it to me as if he were glad to be rid of it. I think that with this painting he had demolished the form which had sustained him. A change of title wouldn’t serve now. La Comédia è finita .