Lawrence Rothbort was born March 1920 in Brooklyn, New York. He was a model from infancy for his father, American Impressionist Samuel Rothbort. A high school dropout at 16, he sought various trades with each experience ending in disappointment and dissatisfaction. In his late teens he became an avid reader of philosophy, religion and mysticism which, eventually, led him to become a moral vegetarian.
He was a Pacifist and would not serve in World War II; a requirement for not serving in the military was to work on American farms due to the manpower shortage. He spent the year 1944 through 1945 living in the Pocono woodlands as a hermit, closely observing nature and living off the land. In 1945, he experienced an epiphany and committed himself to becoming an artist. For the entire year of 1945 with the exception of 2 or 3 holidays, he executed a painting every single day even during the bitter cold. Rain or snow had him painting from life, but indoors. His father, artist Samuel Rothbort told him "Nature will teach him how to paint."
He chose to cut himself off from his contemporaries and created a difficult path for himself. The Charles Barzansky Gallery gave him his first one man show in 1947. The reviews were excellent comparing his drawings to the "old masters" "extraordinary" and his oils "outstanding", "admirably executed", "a Seurat painter", "most personal revelation of an arresting talent."
Like his father, he recorded the ever changing landscape of New York, including 5th Avenue with flags - always on location and never touching up or finishing an outdoor work in the studio. He stated their "Direct Art was synonymous with truth."
He worked in oil, casein, pen & ink and glass. Depending upon the subject and medium, his work would take anywhere from 3 months to one and a half years; working every day for no less that 8 - 12 hours. In 1954, using discarded glass from the shores and junk piles, he embarked on a new phase in his career and began creating mosaics.
In 1956 he married a woman from Brooklyn (Marlene - unknown last maiden name) with whom he later had three children. At the end of 1956, he moved to Florida, and it was there that two of the three children were born. The demands of family life saw him work less and less at his art. He completed three major works, two large oils; one of his wife nursing their first born surrounded by everything they owned in their life. This huge major work done in oil, took him eighteen months to complete. He also did one still life mosaic and another oil painting of their son in a playground.
In 1963, in a store-based gallery and apartment, in an attempted robbery, Lawrence Rothbort was shot to death in front of his pregnant wife and two children ages 4 and 7 respectively. He had refused to give the assailant the last five dollars he had.
In February 1964, a memorial exhibit was held at the Riverside Museum and he received outstanding reviews. As a result of that exhibit some of his work is now in the Rose Museum at Brandeis University, the outstanding American collection of Dorothy and Murray Handwerker, Dr. & Mrs. Kaplan, Florence, Italy and many other collections.
Most of his work is not signed. Only some of his earlier pieces. However, Harriet Semegram, his friend and art dealer, cataloged and photographed his work and has authenticated them. He believed that the way he painted was entirely unorthodox, entirely original, only in some ways traced back to the Egyptians, could never be copied. As one reviewer wrote, "If some of the gallery visitors come looking for the birth of an American Van Gogh, not all of them go away disappointed."