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 Joe Rosenthal  (1921 - )

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Lived/Active: Ontario / Canada      Known for: tabletop figure sculpture, painting, prints, and illustration

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Joseph Rosenthal is primarily known as Joe Rosenthal

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from Auction House Records.
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Joe Rosenthal (AKA: Joseph Rosenthal) is a sculptor, painter, printmaker, illustrator and graphic artist. He was born in Kishinev, Romania.  His home since 1927 has been Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is perhaps best known for his outdoor and tabletop bronze sculptures of rotund figures; however, he has worked in several other styles and mediums in a career that, so far, spans 70 years.

His other mediums include oil, acrylic, watercolor, pen and ink, woodblock print*, lithography*, posters and mixed mediums.  His subjects are nudes, figures, genre*, allegory*, social commentary and portraits.  His styles are Expressionism*, Fauvism and Realism*.

Quote: "It [the human form] is the central focus of universal attention, the hieroglyph of a complicated story.  Life, death, love, hate, power, destiny, identity and relationships are the kind of questions which, for me, become the most challenging subjects to explore in art. Tragedy and comedy in all of their permutations will never lose interest or relevance since these appear and confront each generation anew.  In art, form and content are not separate and the medium is not the message but simply the instrument which must involve the viewer in a response that then completes and closes the bond between both." –  Joe Rosenthal (statement at 2006 exhibition, Beckett Fine Art, Toronto).

His art education includes Central Technical School, Toronto (1935 – 1940) and the Ontario College of Art (1) (1946 – 1947).  Since graduation he has worked as an artist, commercial artist and book illustrator.

His travels include France and Italy in 1965 and a cross country sketching trip financed by a Canada Council grant in 1969. He has also visited Mexico, Cuba, England, Holland, Spain, Greece, Jordan, Israel, Egypt and Canada’s Northwest Territories.

In 1978 he became an Associate Member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts* and in 1979 a Member; he exhibited with them in 1966 (2).  He is also a member of the Ontario Society of Artists* (since 1970), whom he exhibited with in 1967 and 1973, and the Print and Drawing Council of Canada*.  He served in the Canadian Armed Forces from 1942 to 1945.

He has had numerous solo exhibitions in private and public galleries, they include the Upstairs Gallery, Toronto (1961); the Picture Loan Society*, Toronto (1965); Sobot Gallery, Toronto (1965, 1966, 1967, 1968); Becket Gallery, Hamilton, Ontario (1968, 1971); University of Toronto [ Architecture School] (1971); Arwin Galleries, Detroit (1969); Gallery Fore, Winnipeg (1971); Wells Gallery, Ottawa (1971); Merton Gallery, Toronto (1972, 1974, 1976); Sisler Gallery, Toronto (1977); Wallack Galleries, Ottawa. (1980, 1982, 1986); Gustafsson Gallery, Toronto (1981); Galerie Heritage International, Toronto (1984); Erindale Campus, University of Toronto (1987); Region of Peel Art Gallery, Brampton, Ontario (1989); The Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, Hart House, University of Toronto (1993); Ingram Gallery, Toronto (2005); and Beckett Fine Art, Toronto (2006). (3)

Rosenthal’s works are in many private and corporate collections.  According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network* they are also in Museum London (Ontario), the Mendel Art Gallery (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) and the Art Gallery of Hamilton (Ontario).  The Library and Archives of Canada (Ottawa) houses hundreds of his items including over 500 paintings and drawings, as well as, memorabilia, posters, books, correspondence and maquettes (

There are three bronzes in public spaces in Toronto: two on the University of Toronto campus and the statue of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen (commissioned by the Chinese Canadian Commission) at Riverdale Park.  There are also two sculptures at Odette Sculpture Park, Windsor, Ontario.

Books he has illustrated include: The Queen’s Cowboy: Colonel MacLeod of the Mounties (1960) by Kerry Wood; West to the Cariboo (1962) by Lorrie McLaughlin; Mutiny in the Bay: Henry Hudson's Last Voyage (1963), by R.S. Lambert; Old Markets, New World (1964), by Adele Wiseman; Lukey Paul from Labrador (1964), by Adelaide Leitch; and Indians: A Sketching Odyssey (1971), text and drawings by Joe Rosenthal.

His awards include First Prize in the National War Poster Competition sponsored by the Art Gallery of Toronto (now Art Gallery of Ontario) in 1941; the Canada Council Grant in 1969, noted above; an Ontario Society of Artists First Prize in 1973 and numerous others.


(1) Since 1996 - Ontario College of Art and Design.

(2) Source: The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar.

(3) Sources: A Dictionary of Canadian Artists (1974), by Colin S. MacDonald; and Beckett Fine Art, Toronto.

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke.


** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at
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