French Vaudeville (1937). Everett Shinn (American, 1876-1953). Oil on canvas. New Britain Museum of American Art.
Typical of Shinn’s many paintings of city nightlife, which depict theater and vaudeville performances, French Vaudeville portrays a beautiful young chanteuse onstage. While singing, she seductively lifts one side of her gown to reveal a long stockinged leg, and directs her gaze to a member of the audience. Perhaps the singer is looking at the bass-viola player, who gazes up with rapt attention.
Marcus Loew was born into a poor Polish Jewish family who had emigrated to the U.S. and settled in New York City just a year before. He was forced by circumstances to work at a very young age and had little formal education. Nevertheless, beginning with a small investment from money saved from menial jobs, he bought into the penny arcade business. Shortly after, in partnership with Adolph Zukor and others, Loew acquired a nickelodeon and over time he turned Loew’s Theatres into a leading chain of vaudeville and movie theaters in the United States. He later went on to form Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM).