Theatrical-Vaudeville Visions of Everett Shinn

Today is the birthday of the great American realist painter Everett Shinn (1876-1953),member of both the Ashcan School and “The Eight”. I discovered this remarkable artist from my frequent rambles at the Brooklyn Museum, where he is particularly well represented. I like all his work, but what originally caught my eye (for what I hope will be obvious reasons) was his depictions of contemporary theatre, a major theme in his art. Many of his paintings capture stuff I had read and written about. Much of it depicts people, places and moments that have never been photographed. And such photographs that exist at the time are by definition much less vividly realized than these beautiful paintings. There is a terrific article about Shinn and his connection to the theatre on the Gustavus Quarterly website here. 

Now to some of his images:

The first one I saw that grabbed me and made me take note at the Brooklyn Museum was this, entitled Keith’s Union Square, painted ca. 1902-1906:



“The Vaudeville Act”, 1902-1903, Palmer Museum of Art at Pennsylvania State University


"The Orchestra Pit: Old Proctor's Fifth Avenue Theater" (1906): Yale University Art Gallery
“The Orchestra Pit: Old Proctor’s Fifth Avenue Theater” (1906): Yale University Art Gallery


Hippodrome, London, 1902


Concert Stage, 1905
Concert Stage, 1905


French Music Hall, 1917
French Music Hall, 1917

But there are scores of them — a guaranteed rabbit hole. I want to look at ALL of Everett Shinn’s art right now (his non-theatrical images are often just as breath taking.) Can’t fit it all in this blogpost. Can’t even fit it all in my brain!

For more on vaudeville and American theatrical historyconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.


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