The Parisian collector, dealer, and publicist Léonce Rosenberg (1879–1947) opened Galerie L’Effort Moderne in January 1918 at 19, rue de la Baume. For some years after World War I, the gallery was the leading force in promoting avant-garde art and Cubism.
The first solo exhibition at the gallery, which featured the work of Auguste Herbin, was held in March 1918. It was followed by individual presentations of work by Henri Laurens, Pablo Picasso, Fernand Léger, and Juan Gris. Rosenberg also planned exhibition projects outside of Paris, including the first one-man presentation of Picasso’s work in Great Britain at the Leicester Galleries in London in January 1921. Exhibition activities became irregular after 1928, a year during which Rosenberg organized solo exhibitions for Giorgio de Chirico, Metzinger, and Georges Valmier. In 1930 and 1932, the gallery presented two large shows of Francis Picabia’s work at 19, rue de la Baume.
Rosenberg acquired a number of the Cubist works in his inventory from Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler before the sequestration of the German dealer’s stock on December 12, 1914. Primarily because of Kahnweiler’s forced exile in Switzerland during World War I, Rosenberg had managed to sign agreements with numerous artists during and after the war, including those who were previously under contract with Kahnweiler. Among them were Jacques Lipchitz (January 1916), Georges Braque and Gris (April 1916), and Léger (July 1918). Picasso, whose work Rosenberg bought and sold during the war, moved to the dealer’s successful brother Paul in late 1918. In the early 1920s, Rosenberg continued to represent Léger along with József Csáky, Jean Metzinger, Léopold Survage, and other international artists residing in Paris.
As a Jewish enterprise, Galerie L’Effort Moderne was threatened by the Nazi occupation of France during World War II; thus, Rosenberg was forced to close his doors and go into hiding. Subsequently, the Nazi authorities looted some of his property. At least one of his paintings—a Léger titled Woman in Red and Green (1914, restituted to Rosenberg’s heirs in 2003/Bauquier 1990, no. 91)—was confiscated from his brother Paul’s residence or gallery on October 17, 1941. Later, in February 1942, the work formed part of an exchange with the German dealer Gustav Rochlitz. Rosenberg may have transferred part of his property to his brother as a deposit or for safekeeping before or after the occupation. The gallery’s business was not resurrected after World War II in part due to Rosenberg’s death in July 1947.
Rosenberg also acted as the director of a publishing house with the same name—Éditions de “L’Effort Moderne.” Two important projects published by the press contributed to the development of Cubism and its theoretical implications. The first was a series of volumes featuring some of the gallery’s artists, including Braque, Gris, and Léger, as well as the work of avant-garde poets such as Max Jacob, Pierre Reverdy, and Blaise Cendrars. The second enterprise was the equally ambitious Bulletin de “L’Effort Moderne,” a review that provided a forum not only for Rosenberg’s own views but also for those of other artists, critics, and writers. The bulletin also served as a promotional tool for Rosenberg’s commercial interests, as it often featured reproductions of his gallery’s stock.
For more information, see
Georges Bauquier, ed., with Nelly Maillard. Fernand Léger: Catalogue raisonné. Le catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre peint. Vol. 1, 1903–1919
. Paris: Adrien Maeght Éditeur, 1990.
Marianne Jakobi. “La question du cosmopolitisme artistique à Paris dans les années 1920: Léonce Rosenberg et la galerie ‘L'Effort moderne.’” Les artistes étrangers à Paris: de la fin du Moyen Age aux années 1920. Bern and New York: Peter Lang, 2007, pp. 237-255.
For a partial archive of Rosenberg’s correspondence with artists and clients as well as his photo albums, see the fonds Léonce Rosenberg, Bibliotheque Kandinsky, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.
For detailed lists of the gallery’s Léger, Gris, and Herbin inventory, see the various publications by Christian Derouet.