Marjorie Reed

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The first published biography of Marjorie Reed is now available

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Marjorie Reed is best known for her paintings of the stage stations and scenes along the Butterfield Overland Stage Route.  Born in Springfield, Illinois in 1915, Reed’s family moved to southern California when she was twelve. Shortly afterwards, her father, Walter Reed, began working as a free lance graphic artist for Mission Engraving and Offset, a commercial art firm in downtown Los Angeles. 

According to Ed Ainsworth in "The Cowboy and Art", young Marjorie's "inner urge" was so strong she would sometimes walk up to eighteen miles just to "sit on a corral fence and sketch the horses in action". Although the claim may seem somewhat dubious it is known Reed possessed a strong will and was not afraid to travel long distances on foot to find her inspiration. In her early teens she would disappear for several days at a time in the San Gabriel Mountains to sketch deer and other wildlife. The excursions frequently took her from her home in Glendale deep into the Arroyo Seco, sometimes as far as Switzer Falls. Her only companion was Boy, a large Malamute. "I didn't need much to get by” Reed recounted many years afterwards, “Just a couple apples and a fig. Boy would catch his own food."  Although the episodes caused her parents much worry and aggravation, this innate drive combined with her father’s tutelage helped Reed to hone her natural talent into a marketable commodity at a very young age. 

Reed started working alongside her father as a free lance artist at Mission Graphics when she was fourteen, drawing and painting commercial work for several major companies including The Popsicle Company, Standard Oil, and Goodyear Tire and Rubber.  During the summer between her junior and senior year in high school she designed a complete line of greeting cards for "one of the largest business concerns in the nation"

After graduating from Glendale High School she briefly attended Chouinard Art School but never finished.  Her most important formal training came several years later, under the oversight of well known California landscape artist Jack Wilkenson Smith. Starting in 1935, Reed initially walked the sixteen mile round trip from her home in Highland Park to Smith's residence on Champion Place in Alhambra, also known as "Artists Alley".  Shortly thereafter she began roller skating the distance to and from the lessons. Then a near death collision with an automobile prompted the Smith's to invite the young apprentice to live with them. Reed became the youngest member of Artists Alley. The next two years provided a good education for reason's beyond Smith's tutelage.  Artists Alley was a Western artist's Mecca at the time.  Nearby residents included Clyde Forsythe, Eli Harvey, Norman Rockwell and Frank Tenney Johnson.

Reed also credited Smith with encouraging her to roam the California countryside for inspiration.  The two made scores of sketching trips in the southern California foothills and canyons, frequently accompanied by well known landscape artist Hanson Puthuff.

During one of her trips she came in contact with Captain William Banning. Banning had been a stage coach driver for his father Phineas Banning, the owner of a Southern California shipping empire. Captivated by Banning’s knowledge of stage coaches and horse teams, this event, along with her first visit to the Campbell Ranch near Vallecito, California, led Reed to embark on a project that would in time represent the pinnacle achievement of her artistic legacy.


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We are always interested in purchasing or accepting on consignment work by Marjorie Reed.  Please contact us with any inquiries.

  Marjorie Reed Holdin Herd
Holdin Herd  Ink on paper 4 x 6 Circa 1929
  Marjorie Reed and Walter Reed Lake Michigan 1917

Marjorie Reed and Walter Reed-Lake Michigan 1917

Marjorie Reed Old Santa Paula Stage

Old Santa Paula Stage

20 x 24 Oil on Canvas Circa 1938


Marjorie Reed The Early Pioneers

The Early Pioneers

32 x 38 Oil on Board Circa 1938

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