Louis Conrad Rosenberg, born in 1890 in Portland, Oregon, was an American printmaker. Rosenberg was a prolific American artist who produced hundreds of etchings of architectural buildings and structures in Europe and the United States, from the 1920s to the 1940s. His etchings and other art are sought after by print collectors, especially those with an interest in 20th-century American art.
Louis Conrad Rosenberg began his study of architecture in 1906 when, at the age of sixteen, he interned at the office of Portland architect T. Chapell Brown. His mother paid the architect $50 a month to train her son; and Rosenberg stayed with Brown for two years as an unpaid intern, after which he was hired on as a staff draftsman. In 1912, having distinguished himself as an excellent architectural artist and renderer, Rosenberg was awarded a scholarship by the Architectural Club of Portland. By that time he had acquired a second employer and mentor, Ellis Fuller Lawrence, who encouraged the young man to attend The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, from which Rosenberg graduated in 1914. While at M.I.T. Rosenberg’s formidable skills as a draftsman and architectural artist set him apart from his classmates, and he was awarded the M.I.T. Traveling Fellowship in Architecture, entitling him to two years’ study abroad. Unfortunately, Europe was in turmoil over what were the beginnings of World War I, and Rosenberg put off his planned trip abroad. However, Ellis Lawrence, who was then establishing the school of architecture at The University of Oregon, invited Rosenberg to return home to join the faculty as Assistant to the Dean and teach.
In 1917, upon America’s entry into the war, Rosenberg enlisted in the Army. He served with The Camouflage Corps, 40th Engineers, under the command of Aymar Embury, the celebrated New York Architect, who organized a unit of eight professional artists to document the activities of the American Expeditionary Force in France. In 1919, following The Armistice and his demobilization from military service, Rosenberg returned to the University of Oregon, where he continued teaching and married Marie Louise Allen of Portland. In June of 1920, Rosenberg and his wife embarked for Europe to take advantage of his Traveling Fellowship. The next two years were fruitful, as he toured the Continent and coasted the Mediterranean visiting Southern Europe, North Africa, and The Levant. An inveterate note-taker, he filled dozens of copy books with sketches and studies of monuments, markets, and architectural scenes both great and small. Towards the end of his tour Rosenberg visited The American Academy in Rome, where he met two men whose influence would prove instrumental in the future course of his life: the American Robert Fulton Logan, from whom he took instruction in the craft of etching, and William Walcot, the British architect and illustrator whose fantastical historic recreations were the rage of London. Logan taught him how to etch, and through Walcot Rosenberg met H. C. Dickins, one of England’s principal fine art dealers and publishers.
While at The American Academy Rosenberg produced a series of etchings between the Fall of 1921 and the Spring of 1922 – The Rome Series, which initiated his career as a fine artist. One of the prints, St. Peter’s Colonnade, would win a Silver Medal from The California Printmakers Society in 1922. But Rosenberg was not yet ready to give up the practice of architecture for the uncertain rewards of an artist’s life, and returned to the United States where he took a job with the firm of York and Sawyer in New York. Once more chance intervened in his life: the British artist Muirhead Bone, an acquaintance of Phillip Sawyer, visited New York, and was immediately struck by Rosenberg’s technical and artistic work. By Bone’s encouragement, and through his influence, Rosenberg was able to attend The School of Engraving at The Royal College of Art in London, where he studied under the master printmaker Malcolm Osborne, A.R.A. Rosenberg moved to London in 1924, and over the next near produced two dozen prints, two of which won the Chicago Society of Etchers Logan Prize, one the Society of Brooklyn Etchers Prize, and seven of which were included in his volume of The American Etcher series (Volume X).
Louis Conrad Rosenberg made his living as an architect, educator, and fine artist. He transitioned freely among these three vocations over the course of his life as circumstances dictated, and he enjoyed substantial success in all three. Though he began his professional career as a practicing architect, and returned to the business of architecture several times, it was as a fine artist that he enjoyed his greatest recognition and reward. His documented 171 etching and drypoint estate prints, as well as scores of architectural illustrations and renderings in pencil, ink, watercolor and photographs have been archived at The University of Oregon in their Special Collections Division. He is considered, along with fellow M.I.T. graduates and World War I veterans John Taylor Arms and Samuel Chamberlain, among America’s greatest traditional graphic artists and architectural illustrators.
Rosenberg was recognized repeatedly with awards, prizes, exhibitions, and publications. His awards and prizes included the Silver Medal, California Printmaker’s Society in 1924; The Logan Prize given by The Chicago Society of Etchers in the years 1925, 1927, and 1932; the Brooklyn Society of Etchers Prize in 1926, as well as Mrs. Henry F. Noyes Prize in 1932 and the John Taylor Arms Prize in 1938; and The Fine Arts Medal, The Architectural Institute of America in 1949. His alma mater, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, established the Louis C. Rosenberg (1913) Traveling Fellowship in his honor, a highly sought-after prize that continues to be awarded today.
His work was exhibited by The American Academy, Rome in 1922; by The Royal Academy in London in 1925, 1926, and 1928; by The Royal Society of Painter-Etchers in 1927, 1928, 1932, and 1954; by The Chicago Society of Etchers in 1926, 1929, 1932, 1935, and 1939; by The Brooklyn Society of Etchers in 1928; by The Society of American Etchers in 1931, 1932, 1934, 1935, 1938, 1939, and 1940; by The National Arts Club in 1929; by The Cleveland Printmakers in 1931; by The Print Club of Philadelphia in 1932 and 1940; by The California Printmakers in 1934; by The Art Institute of Chicago in 1934 and 1938; by The Municipal Art Society, New York in 1934; by The National Academy in 1937; by The World’s Fair, New York in 1939; and by The Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1962.
His work was included in the annual editions of Fine Prints of the Year, published by Halston and Truscott Smith, London, in the years 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1933, 1934, 1935, and 1936. He was the subject of Modern Masters of Etching, Number 22, L. C. Rosenberg, A.R.E. in 1922; of American Etchers, Volume X, Louis C. Rosenberg, The Crafton Collection, New York, 1930; as well as numerous articles and critical reviews in publications such as The Print Collector’s Quarterly in 1928, American Artist in 1946, 1947, and 1957; Architecture Magazine in 1935, and various books published by The Architectural Book Publishing Company.
With the start of World War II, Rosenberg enlisted in the U.S. Army and was assigned to a camouflage unit under the command of Aymar Embury, a New York architect. His company was sent to North Africa where Rosenberg sketched and water-colored. These are included in the book Middle East War Projects of Johnson, Drake, and Piper, Inc., for the Army Corps of Engineers, 1942-1943. The unit was broken up after eighteen months at which time Rosenberg returned to Portland where he worked with local architects Glenn Stanton and Hollis Johnston for three years. He was living in Fairfield, Connecticut in 1946. He died in Oregon City, Oregon in 1983.
Rosenberg was an active professional citizen, and was admitted as a Senior Fellow of The Royal Society of Painter-Etchers in 1931; a member of The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce, London in 1936; an Academician of The National Academy of Design in 1932; and a member of The Architectural Institute of America in 1952; along with memberships in The American Institute of Architects, The Brooklyn Society of Etchers (after 1922 The Society of American Etchers, which then became the Society of American Graphic Artists in 1952), The Chicago Society of Etchers, The Philadelphia Society of Etchers, and The Chelsea Arts Club, London. His work is held in the collections of The National Gallery, Washington D.C., The Library of Congress, The Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Royal Academy, London, The Victoria and Albert Museum, The British Museum, The Royal Academy of Arts, Stockholm, The Brooklyn Museum, The New York Public Library, The Fine Art Museums of San Francisco, The Cleveland Museum, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and The Harvard University Art Museums.
Louis Conrad Rosenberg (American, 1890-1983)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology M.I.T.
Image size 7 7/8 x 12 7/8 inches with full margins
Initialed and dated 1929 (MCMXIX) in plate lower right, pencil signed