Jakob Rosenberg (1893 – 1980) was a German-US art historian and Rembrandt scholar.

Jakob Rosenberg
BornSeptember 5, 1893
DiedApril 7, 1980

Rosenberg was born in Berlin into a family of art dealers and in the years 1912-1914 he first did an internship in the art trade in Munich. After serving in WWI he was captured by the British in 1915 and was sent to Switzerland by prisoner exchange. After the war he studied art history in Bern and Zurich, then in Frankfurt and Munich, where he received his doctorate under Heinrich Wölfflin. He then worked for Max J. Friedlander in the Berlin print cabinet Kupferstichkabinett Berlin, where he also had contact with Wilhelm von Bode. In 1935 he became a curator there but was dismissed the same year for racial reasons. After a visit to Harvard in 1936, Jakob Rosenberg emigrated to the United States in 1937, where he was admitted to Harvard University through Adolph Goldschmidt and his friend Paul Sachs. He was first a research fellow and lecturer, in 1940 associate professor and in 1947 full professor. His 1948 overview work on Rembrandt was reprinted in 1964 and 1968, holding its own as a standard work during the early years of the Rembrandt Research Project. He was also director of the Graphic Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston from 1939.

In 1954 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Jacob Rosenberg married Elisabeth Husserl, the daughter of Edmund Husserl, in 1922.

Rosenberg died in Cambridge, Mass.


  • Die Handzeichnungen von Martin Schongauer. München 1923 (Dissertation).
  • Jacob van Ruisdael, Berlin 1928.
  • with Elfried Bock: Die Zeichnungen alter Meister im Kupfertichkabinett. Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. Die Niederländischen Meister, Frankfurt a. M. 1930.
  • with Max J. Friedländer: Die Gemälde Lucas Cranachs des Älteren. Berlin 1932; 2. Auflage Basel 1979.
  • Rembrandt. Life and work, Cambridge, Mass. 1948.
  • Great draughtsmen from Pisanello to Picasso. Cambridge, Mass. 1959.
  • Die Zeichnungen Lucas Cranachs. Berlin 1960.