We would like to honor the talented and multi-faceted artist Herman Rosse (1887-1965) with a brief summary of his artistic career since this year it is fifty years ago that he passed away. Herman Rosse was especially assigned by the Board of the Carnegie Foundation as a specialist of the design of the interior of the Peace Palace. In close cooperation with the Dutch executive architect of the Peace Palace, J.A.G. van de Steur, Herman Rosse invented merely the whole decoration scheme of the building. Rosse adorned almost all the ceilings, vaults and windows of the important rooms of the building with wonderful decorations, geometrical shapes and symbols of peace and justice.
Herman Rosse started his education by taking art lessons at the Academy of Fine Arts in The Hague and studying at the Royal College of Art at South Kensington in London in the field of Ornament, Design and Architecture and he finished his studies at Stanford University in California with a Bachelor of Arts Degree. Rosse also travelled a great deal and found his inspiration for his later designs in other cultures and nature.
After designing several interiors of residences at the early stage of his career he was already given the relatively large commission for the interior design of the Peace Palace in 1911. He worked for almost 30 months, night and day, to finish his decorations for the vaults in the corridors, the many windows and also completed his elaborate decoration scheme with twenty windows with depictions of the months of the year, the elements and stages of mankind and all the tile panels carried out by the famous Hague Factory of Rozenburg. Not to speak of his master piece above the main staircase representing the ‘Horae’, goddesses of Peace and Justice, executed in striking bright colors and very fine details in gold. After this great project Herman Rosse moved to the United States where he amongst other projects focused on stage and costume design. To mention a few projects: Rosse designed The Dutch pavilion at the Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, designed The Netherlands Pavilions at the world fairs in Paris, New York and Brussels and at the height of his career designed several set designs and costumes for Hollywood films, such as Frankenstein and not to forget the film King of Jazz (1929). For the latter he even received an Academy Award for his contribution as an Art Director. Also worth mentioning is that he illustrated several books such as 1001 afternoons in Chicago (1922).
Herman Rosse returned to Holland in 1933 to lecture at the Technische Hoogeschool in Delft. Besides his work as a Professor he also worked on town planning for the cities of Delft and The Hague. After the war Rosse and his family returned to the US where he mainly worked as a stage designer. Rosse lived in the family house in New City until his death in 1915. His family donated a large part of his archives and designs to the Chapin Library, Williamstown.
Notulen bestuursvergadering Carnegie-Stichting 10-10-1906
Herman Rosse and S. Helena Rosse Archive, Chapin Library, Williams College, Williamsburg