by Long Beach
by David Rose, from the
Charles E. Young Research Library
Department of Special Collections
To a horror-stricken world, Klaus Barbie was the “Butcher
of Lyon.” In the hands of the renowned courtroom
artist David Rose, the notorious Nazi Gestapo chief (bottom right)
was a frail old man with hollow eyes that stared blankly.
“I see something private and protective in his face —
like he doesn’t want to reveal himself,” says Rose,
peering at a sketch he made in 1987 during Barbie’s trial
for war crimes at the Palais de Justice in Lyon, France.
Now 94 years old, Rose made his last courtroom sketch in 1996
at the Tel Aviv trial of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s
assassin, Yigal Amir. In Rose’s day, this jovial and hard-working
son of Polish immigrants was among the best courtroom artists
in the business.
Rose’s sketchpad and colored pencils captured images in
courtrooms where cameras were not allowed. His first assignment,
for NBC, took him to federal court in Los Angeles for the Pentagon
Papers trial of Daniel Ellsberg. Over the next quarter-century,
the artist sketched a rogue’s gallery of faces that evoke
the social and political turbulence of the era. Among them were
Patty Hearst (center right), Huey Newton, Rodney King, Roman Polanski,
John DeLorean and Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme.
“Hell was going on and it all came to a head in the courtroom,”
remarks Rose, whose clients included ABC, CBS, CNN, the Associated
Press and Reuters.
Rose thrived under the brutal pressure of daily deadlines. Pencils
protruding from his shirt pockets and between his fingers, he
worked on as many as five drawings at a time. His pencil flew
across the paper, recording only the details necessary to tell
the story. “I was made for this work,” says Rose.
“You get four to five hours to work on something, you fuss
For many years, Rose stored his renderings in a spare bedroom
at his Hollywood home. Recently, he donated the bulk of the collection
— more than 700 drawings — to UCLA’s Charles
E. Young Research Library, where it is available for public viewing
in the Department of Special Collections.
Rose studied French at UCLA Extension in preparation for the
Barbie trial, but his primary connection to the campus comes through
his wife, Ida, who died in 1992. An artist herself, Ida graduated
from UCLA in the late 1930s and went on to teach art at Fairfax
by Anne Burke