In 1986 David Rose told the Los Angeles Times that the camera sees everything, but captures nothing. It merely gets everything in the room. We learn to leave out the non-essential and emphasize what is important. It was this spirit that allowed David Rose to become one of the most well-known courtroom sketch artists of the twentieth century.
David Rose was born on March 10, 1910 in Malden, Massachusetts, the son of Polish immigrants who had come to the United States to escape prosecution under the Russian czar. He grew up speaking a language he referred to as Lodzer Yiddish, after Lodz, Poland. Long before his career as a courtroom artist began, Rose's talents and interest in people--especially the working class and Jewish populations around the world-- took him from his Boston neighborhood to communities all around the world. He drew sketches of people working in the fields on kibbutzes in Israel, sailors on container ships, longshoreman at the ports, men at rock quarries, farmers in orange groves, subway builders in Los Angeles-- people all still doing proud, meaningful work in an increasingly automated society.
Long before his career as a courtroom artist began, David Rose was a layout artist for Walt Disney Studios in the late 1930s. During World War II, Rose was posted to the U.S. Army Film Corps under the command of Col. Frank Capra whose unit was responsible for making such training and propaganda films as the animated Private Snafu series. During this same time, Rose served under Theodor Geisel-- better known as Dr. Seuss-- and they became lifelong friends. From 1945 to 1960, Rose was an illustrator and designer at various film and television studios in addition to teaching at the Otis Art Institute and other universities and art societies.
It was also in 1945 that Rose met and married Ida Claire Shapiro, a sculptor and art teacher at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles. They had two daughters, Lisa and Marsha. (Both Ida and Marsha preceded David Rose in death.)
Rose's courtroom career began in 1973 with the trial of Daniel Ellsberg, the former defense analyst who released the Pentagon Papers regarding the Viet Nam War to the New York Times. (Rose received an Emmy Award nomination for his coverage of the Pentagon Papers trial.) Rose's sketches of this trial-- along with all those that would follow through the next twenty-five years-- appeared in television news broadcasts and newspapers all over the world. He saw himself as a reporter-- but with colored pencils and sketchpads as his tools. He tried to capture the emotions in the courtroom-- the tension, anger, and the body language that conveyed them. Over the years, Rose's art depicted the trials of some of the most famous-- and infamous-- personalities to make the news: Klaus Barbie (the Butcher of Lyon), Patty Hearst, Sirhan Sirhan, John Z. DeLorean, Rodney King, Imelda Marcos, Huey Newton, Lynette Squeaky Fromme, and many others.
Rose's works were frequently displayed at fine arts galleries and were exhibited at the University of Judaism. Concerned about the future of Israel and the United States, Rose asked that donations be directed towards defeating the Bush administration and its agenda.
David Rose died March 4, 2006 at his home in Hollywood from complications of pneumonia.