How a Drawing of Donald Trump at His Arraignment Became the First Courtroom Sketch to Cover ‘The New Yorker’

The sketch has also gone viral on Twitter.

The cover of The New Yorker, April 17 edition. Photo: The New Yorker.

Jane Rosenberg just loves drawing people. For 40 years, the sketch artist has captured the expressions of the rich and notorious passing through New York’s justice system. But this week, Rosenberg tackled her most nerve-racking assignment yet: Donald Trump’s arraignment.

On April 4, the former U.S. President turned himself in at a Manhattan courthouse to face up to 34 felony charges of falsifying business records. With the judge rejecting a formal request from news organizations to allow T.V. cameras inside the courtroom, the onus was on three permitted sketch artists to faithfully capture a scene seemingly the whole country was watching.

Rosenberg’s pastel sketch shows Trump, glum, slumped, and cross-armed, glowering at the Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg. In the background, Justice Juan M. Merchan, the judge overseeing the case, is seated alongside security guards and court clerks. It portrayed the very moment that Trump became the first president—past or present—to be charged with criminal activity.

The image will front the April 17 edition of The New Yorker, the first time a courtroom sketch has been used in such a way by the weekly magazine.

“[Trump’s] got tons of expression on his face and that crazy hair that is almost like a hat,” Rosenberg told Hyperallergic. “I’m not saying it’s a happy or pleasant face, but he has a unique look that is fun to capture.”

Somewhat inevitably, the sketch went viral on Twitter with many users comparing Rosenberg’s Trump to Dr. Seuss’ Grinch. Others posted humorous images created by A.I image generators.

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in fine art, Rosenberg studied at Art Students League and the National Academy of Art and began doing courtroom sketches. She has covered some of the city’s highest profile cases including the trials of R Kelly, Ghislaine Maxwell, and Harvey Weinstein.

In 2017, her work was featured in the exhibition “Drawing Justice: The Art of Courtroom Illustration” at the Library of Congress. Away from the courtroom, Rosenberg is a noted plein air painter.


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