Commissioned Art in the USA

Louis Orr was born in Hartford Connecticut, where he got his start as an artist and printmaker. In his late twenties, he studied in Paris, where he met his French wife of nearly five decades. Orr settled with his wife in Paris and kept his main studio there, but throughout his life, he frequently traveled back to the United States, using Hartford as his home base. Orr was highly celebrated in the USA, holding exhibitions in major cities and receiving important commissions from colleges, universities, businesses, and local and state governments.

USA City Commissions

In 1931, Louis Orr was commissioned to do the William Howard Taft Memorial Etching the National Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. This image, which was hung in American embassies all over the world, was just one of the many numerous commissions he received for much of his career from American governments and businesses.

Washington, DC, 1931

North Carolina 1939-1952

In June 1939, on a sojourn in the United States that would be prolonged by World War II, Orr acceded to a request to execute the most outstanding work of his career, a monumental 51-etching series of historic buildings and sites of the state of North Carolina. For this commission, he collaborated with Robert Lee Humber, who later led the effort to establish the North Carolina Museum of Art. In April 1941, Orr completed what has become an iconic image of the North Carolina State Capitol Building.

Hartford & Lyme, Connecticut 

New York, 1929

USA College & University Commissions

From 1928-1930, Louis Orr was commissioned to produce etchings of many prestigious American universities and colleges. In 1929, Kenneth Phillips Britton called Louis Orr the:

“preeminent etcher of American colleges. His academic scenes have endeavored him to college graduates and collectors...Mr. Orr has caught in black and white the whole rich colored fabric of college life.”

Princeton University & Yale University, 1927

Dartmouth University, 1928

Welleslley College, 1929

Harvard University, 1929

Stanford University, 1930

University of  Virginia, 1930

Duke University, 1937


Ports of America Commission, 1928

In 1928, Louis Orr was commissioned to produce etchings of fourteen ports in the United States. The Ports of America series portrays harbor-side views from the Atlantic, Pacific, Great Lakes, and the Gulf of Mexico, creating a snapshot of important locations during a significant era. Ports of America is one of Louis Orr's most celebrated series of prints.


United Nations New York Headquarters Commission

For his final prestigious commission in 1952-1953, Louis Orr created an etching of the newly built United Nations headquarters in  New York City. Orr described how he conceived this great image,

“In the conception as in the etching itself, I kept in mind the great purpose of the United Nations...Here it seemed to me was the ideal setting and atmosphere of the United Nations. The flush of the morning sunshine, the striking silhouette of the buildings, and the receding mists created the symbolic picture.” Orr's etching of the United Nations Headquarters in New York was presented to UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold. Orr's etching was then reproduced as a poster by the United Nations and was gifted to member governments.