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 Louis Orr  (1879 - 1961)

About: Louis Orr
 

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Lived/Active: Connecticut / France      Known for: printmaking, architecture, marine

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BIOGRAPHY for Louis Orr
Facts/Data
Birth
1879 (Hartford, Conneticut)
 
Death
1961 (Paris, France)

Lived/Active
Connecticut / France


Copyright by Owner


Often Known For
printmaking, architecture, marine

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Old Lyme Colony Painters
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Following is an article from an anonymous source who has an etching by Louis Orr, likely Notre Dame Cathedral, that was in the family from N. Ross Parke, a well known artist in the Hartford, Connecticut area: Submitted 6/2002.

Article in "The Hartford Times" Sat, March 5, 1966; page 7.(Hartford CT)
Titled: Friends Honor Memory of Orr, Recall Etcher's Hartford Youth
Author: Florence Berkman).

"Don't spoil a good printer and make a poor printer. This was the advice given by a father (an art collector) to his daughter who had asked him to give a young artist she had just discovered a grant for study. 'But he has extraordinary talent.' She told her father. The young man was an apprentice printer at Plimptons.

The father was the late James G. Batterson, one of the founders of the Travelers Insurance Co.: The daughter was Mary Batterson Beech (wife of Charles C. Beech): the year was 1906, and the artist was Louis Orr, who died last week.

The story of the young printer's success as a world renowned etcher and artist is well known. Phillip Kappel, a Hartford born artist, and himself a noted etcher, said of Orr, 'he was one of the great masters. He was tops, a real master of architectural subjects, especially.

His greatness lay in the extreme detail he worked into his etchings which did not overrun the story. He had a fluid, flowing line, and his work had vitality,' said Kappel, now a resident of New Milford, CT. Whose work will go on exhibition at the end of this month at the Boston Art Center, Trinity College.

Mr. Orr was my inspiration when I was a child. I used to see his works in the window of the Moyer Gallery, then on Trumbull Street (in Hartford CT).

A son and a daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Beech, J. Watson Beech and Mrs. George
Capon (nee Elizabeth Beach), reminisce recently on the lifelong relationship with Louis Orr and their family. Beach said there was no doubt in his mind, that if his mother had not "discovered" Louis Orr, Louis would have spent his life as a printer and illustrator.

Recalling his first encounter with Mrs Beach, Orr, writing in 1925, said he had found himself becoming interested in the decorative borders that Plimpton did when he was an apprentice there. As a result he went to a printer's school sponsored by the YMCA, later working half days and studying the rest of the time. A series of illustrations he did for Eugene Sue's (Wandering Jew) showed so much talent that his instructor showed them to Mrs. Beach.

At the time she was president of the Hartford Art Society, now the Hartford Art School, the University of Hartford. She was impressed and went to her father for the grant. When he refused it, she obtained a scholarship to the art school for the young artist. When Orr was told the good news he dashed home to tell his parents. His mother, was delighted, his father furious.

'He took his hat and coat,' Orr recalled, 'and we marched impressively to the beautiful home of Mrs. Beach on Woodland Street (Hartford CT).

'Am I to understand that my son is about to become an artist- long haired, absent minded, with dandruff on his collar?' His father demanded of Mrs. Beach. 'I shall always remember, Mrs. Beach's reply,"'Orr said. 'The gracious, handsome lady said, " I don't think Louis' hair will grow very long.'

'I was enrolled in the school.'

He left Plimptons and with part time work went to the Art School. Later Mrs. Beach and a few other philanthropic people gave Louis Orr $350 dollars to go to Lyme for a summer of study. He went to Paris to become the first American artist whose work was acquired by The Louvre. This was in 1919. He was also made an officer of the French Legion of Honor.

Maurice Moulle, chief of the Bureau of Acquisitions for The Louvre, said of Louis Orr at the time: Slender, with a frank and open countenance, cordial manner, eyes sparkling, a bit of accent, much modesty, unlimited kindness, such is the excellent etcher Louis Orr.

Born in Hartford, CT; he has resided in Paris for many years and it was here that he married. Pupil of the late Jean Paul Laurens. Louis Orr has inherited a probity of his master. He is first of all conscientious. Rarely has it been permitted to encounter an etcher with such a beautiful temperament. His needle is spiritual, brilliant in supply. " He is an idealist who sees, feels and interprets his subject poetically.

A remarkable draftsman, he knows how to ally the reality with the (fantasie) he creates when necessary and he has taken a pre ponderant place among the masters of original black and white etchings. It is difficult to class the technique of Lois Orr. He is, above all, himself, but it is permitted to say that he continues, notably, the traditions of the American School, and that he recalls the charm of Whistler and the brilliant qualities of John Sargent. La France can but congratulate herself that it extended its hospitality to Louis Orr.

Orr spent a great part of his life in France but in 1940 returned to America to do a series of 50 plates on landscapes, historical sights, plantations houses and harbors in North Carolina. In 1950 he returned to Hartford (CT), and again Mrs. Beach assisted him. This time she gave him a studio in her elegant garage which had been converted from a stable. A few years later after Dr. Beach's death, she invited him to reside in her home. One of the most elegant homes in the area with a staff of servants to help tend to his needs.

Patrons of the arts of the caliber of Mrs. Beach are not common today. Louis Orr was fortunate to have crossed her path.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
The following is submitted by Virginia Woodbury, October 2003.

I have been researching 3 etchings of Rheims Cathedral by Louis Orr and received the following information from Ann Bartholomew, Registrar of the American Red Cross Museum: We know from records in the archival file that 20 sets of prints were offered to each of the 14 Red Cross Divisions at the time (and in your case that was probably the Southwestern Division in St.Louis, MO) for distribution to chapters that had "permanent headquarters" and had done so much during the war.

In 1917, Mr. Orr was commissioned by the French government to make etchings of the cathedral because of the widespread fear of its destruction by the constant bombardment by the Germans. Mr. Orr volunteered for service in both the French and American armies, but was rejected on account of a physical disability. He offered 300 sets of the three cathedral etchings, autographed by himself, to the American Red Cross. The etchings were to be sold to produce needed funding for the War Fund during the summer of 1918. The offer was accepted, and the etchings were shipped to America.

Unfortunately, their transportation was delayed and the etchings did not arrive in America until early 1919. Since the "Great War" had ended in November, 1918, it was decided, with the artist's approval, that sets of these etchings would be presented to Red Cross chapters with permanent headquarters. Under an arrangement with Mr. Orr, the American Red Cross was never permitted to sell the etchings.


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