About the artist:
A premier American etcher, Louis Orr is celebrated for his large, detailed works of Paris, etchings he completed as the French Army’s Official Artist from the frontlines of World War I, and domestically, for his extensive series of etchings of North Carolina landmarks.
Orr was educated at the Hartford Art School, the Art Student’s League in New York, and the Academie Julian in Paris. Enamored by France, but a hometown boy at heart, the artist spent much of his life living between Hartford, Connecticut and Paris. During the 1920’s, Orr was one of the most sought after artists on both sides of the Atlantic. Notably, Louis Orr was the first living American artist to have his work collected by the Louvre, and his was also the first original etching ever purchased by the Museum.
In 1906, Louis Orr traveled to Paris for the first time. He spent 22 months in France, but returned to the Northeastern United States to continue his education, teach at the Art Society, and work at The Hartford Times. His lust for Paris brought him back in 1911, where he enrolled at the Academie Julian, and began working under Jean-Paul Laurens, a notable painter and major proponent of the French Academic style.
In 1917, Orr enlisted in the French Army, through which he was given special permissions to be on the frontlines of World Was I as a working artist.
He traveled to Rheims, where, at risk to his own life, he created etchings of the Rheims Cathedral under German artillery fire. This effort and the works it manifested were the launching pad for Louis Orr’s career, bringing him widespread international recognition. The French Government arranged an exhibition in Paris of these works, the sales from which were donated to the French Red Cross. Furthermore, Orr exhibited these works at the Luxembourg Gallery, and elsewhere. The Louvre now hosts 4 of the works he produced during World War I. Following the war, the artist returned stateside, but continued to travel frequently.
During another trip to Paris, Louis Orr met Robert Lee Humber, who later led the effort to establish the NC Museum of Art in 1947. Together, they conceptualized a series of 50 etchings of North Carolina landmarks.
When Orr returned stateside in 1939, he and Humber took an extended road trip around NC to formulate a list of possibilities for subjects; a list that originally contained over 100 places! As a North Carolina native and cultural leader, Humber was instrumental in the formulation of this project. It took Louis Orr nearly 12 years to complete the 50 plates they settled on, depicting historical places, landscapes, houses, and plantations from around the state. Interestingly, the artist preferred to work from his drawings of these sites, so although he took many trips to NC during this period, Orr remained Hartford based, working between Connecticut and New York City. Complete sets of 50 still exist today in some libraries and institutions. (Courtesy of Gallery C)
A premier American etcher, Louis Orr is celebrated for his large, detailed works of Paris, etchings he completed as the French Army’s Official Artist from the frontlines of World War I, and domestically, for his extensive series of etchings of