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Fashion, Men, Edmund Magrath, 2 Antique Paintings, Early 20th Century


Edmund Magrath (1885-1961)
Sporting Wear Gent Fashion Illustration
Formal Wear Gent Fashion Illustration
Early 20th Century
Oil on canvas
Sporting: 34 x 22 inches overall, signed in the image
Formal: 28 x 14.5 inches image, 32 x 21 inches overall
$1,300 each

Two original oil painting fashion illustrations by Edmund Magrath, prepared by the artist for publication. Formal Wear depicts a young man in a dressy dark brown suit at the foot of a staircase in an upscale restaurant, wearing shoes with spats and a blue and yellow striped necktie, and sporting a pocket handkerchief and a cigarette in a long holder. The fact that he is wearing spats helps to date this painting to no later than the late 1920s, by which time spats were increasingly out of favor. In addition, the style of the hats worn by the women in the background also date to about this period. The painting has hand written notations by the publisher in the right margin.

Product description continues below.


Sporting Wear shows a young man in a brown wool pin striped suit, with wide lapels and cuffs. The outfit is accessorized with a bowler hat, kid gloves, and a cane, and he also wears shoes with spats. He has a cigarette in his mouth and a shot glass in his hand. A vignette illustration in the upper third of the background shows a couple in English riding gear on horseback in an autumn landscape. Presumably the lower portion was left blank for the addition of advertising copy or text.

Edmund Magrath was an American portrait painter and fashion illustrator based in East Orange, New Jersey. Born in Massachusetts, he studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and Rhode Island School of Design. By the age of 22 he had an exclusive contract with the Sherman & Bryan ad agency, which promoted him to the clothing trade as “pre-eminently the master of a life-and-blood technique. He draws MEN, not manikins. You almost expect them to step down from the canvas with hand outstretched and a quip on the lip, so natural do they look. None of your spineless, nerveless, boneless, bloodless, ‘fashion plates.'” In 1915, a printing trade publication, The Inland Printer, listed McGrath as among “the most skilled and highest salaried artists in the profession” of fashion illustration. In the 1910s, he illustrated high-end full color style booklets distributed to clients of Baltimore clothier Strouse & Brothers; these included a section on historical fashions and another on current styles of men and young men’s clothing. Magrath’s portraits were commissioned by numerous corporate and institutional clients including Bell Telephone, Prudential Insurance, Fireman’s Insurance Company, the New York Board of Trade, New York City Hall Library and Wright Aeronautical. He was a member of the Salmagundi Club and the American Artists Professional League, which awarded him a citation in 1955.

Condition: Oil on canvas, on a wooden stretcher, unframed. Each generally very good, with the usual overall light toning, handling, wear. Formal Wear with publisher’s margin notes.


Gilbert, Dorothy B., ed. Who’s Who in American Art. New York: American Federation of Arts and R.R. Bowker, 1959. p. 363.

The Clothier and Furnisher. Vol. 71. 1907, p. 41. Online at Google Books: (30 August 2017).

The Inland Printer. Vol. 54. 1915. p. 83. Online at Google Books: (30 August 2017).