Louis Orr

THE LOUIS ORR ETCHINGS of NORTH CAROLINA HISTORIC LANDMARK BUILDINGS

The Complete Series of Etchings of North Carolina Landmarks, 1939-1951 was commissioned by State Senator Robert Lee Humber of Greenville, private collector, patron and champion of the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Greenville Museum of Art, the Tryon Palace Commission, Edenton Historical Commission, and Pitt County Community College.  Orr has been compared to Rembrandt and Piranesi. Both mastered the art of expressive etching. The Etchings of North Carolina Landmarks celebrate historic preservation with their depictions of architecture. Humber said, “Architecture is the soul of a community, creating its personality and the image which reflects its culture.”  Louis Orr was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1879. He attended the Hartford Art School, Art Student’s League in New York, and the Academie Julian in Paris. He also received a Guggenheim Fellowship.  The Louvre Museum in Paris purchased his etching of the Pont Neuf, the first work from a living American artist.  Art historian Frances Daugherty described Orr’s etchings as “even-tempered and genteel.”  They hang in museums, courthouses, historic sites, libraries, and private homes.

Second North Carolina State Capitol, Raleigh
SOLD 

Duke University Chapel, Durham, N.C.
SOLD 

Eumaneaw Society Hall, Davidson College,
Davidson, North Carolina
SOLD

The Old Court House, Salisbury, North Carolina
SOLD

Tryon’s Palace, New Bern, First North Carolina
State Capitol
SOLD 

Salem Academy – The Inner Court,
Moravaine Settlement, Winston-Salem,
North Carolina
SOLD 

Plantation Servant’s Quarters, Hillsboro,
North Carolina
SOLD 

The Old Mint, Charlotte, North Carolina
SOLD 

Bourgwine – Wright Cornwallis House, Wilmington,
North Carolina
SOLD 

St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Bath, N.C.
SOLD 

“The Hayes” Plantation House, Edenton, North
Carolina
SOLD 

BIOGRAPHY

Master etcher and artist Louis Orr was born in Hartford, Connecticut and spent much of his professional life living in Paris. Louis Orr’s father, uncle and grandfather were all engravers and printers and, despite their efforts to discourage him from the difficult life of an artist, Orr was inspired to study at the Hartford Art School. On a scholarship, he continued his studies at the Art Student’s League, and at the Academie Julian in Paris. It was in Paris that Orr met and married his wife, a student of the late Jean Paul Laurens. The artist built a strong reputation as a print maker specializing in architectural subjects such as the beautiful bridges and cathedrals of Paris.

Also while in Paris, Orr met North Carolinian Robert Lee Humber and together they envisioned a large series of etchings of North Carolina landmarks. In 1940, Orr returned from Paris and settled in North Carolina where, over the next twelve years, he would complete this monumental series of 50 plates of historical sites, landscapes, houses and plantations around the state. The etchings were release in portfolios of five each year and were collected by institutions and private collectors alike. Orr chose mostly frontal and eye-level views of his North Carolina series, and he also preferred to work closely from his drawings rather than directly on the plates. Today, Louis Orr’s etchings of North Carolina hang in museums, courthouses and libraries and have a distinguished place in the history of the state.

The artist returned to Hartford Connecticut after completing the North Carolina series and lived in his hometown for the final decade of his life. Louis Orr achieved great success and recognition with his etchings both in Europe and the United States. Many works were purchased by museums including the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Boston Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Institute.

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