It seems that Shinn, like other Ashcan artists from Philadelphia, got his start as a newspaper illustrator. And he continued to illustrate long after he took up painting, this to help pay his bills when needed.
Besides painting and illustration he became deeply involved in theatrical activities. Later he extended this to professional work as an art director for movie studios.
A 1901 visit to Paris acquainted him with the works of Edgar Degas which strongly inspired him, as can be seen below, especially in his "The Orchestra Pit." Of course Shinn painted landscapes, city scenes and other subjects, but I thought it might be interesting to focus here are theater-inspired paintings. All shown here were made in the early 1900s with the exception of the one of the night club that was done around 30 years later.