Sidney Harry Riesenberg was born December 12, 1885 in Chicago, Illinois. His father, Wilhelm Heinrich Riesenberg, was born in 1850 in Germany and came to America in 1880. His mother, Emily Schorb, was born in 1855 in Wisconsin. His parents married on August 23, 1877 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They raised four children, Felix (b.1879), Elsa (b.1883), Sidney (b.1885) and Edith (b.1890). The family lived at 1670 Buckingham Place in Chicago. The father worked for The Chicago Daily News, and the mother wrote a cooking column for several Chicago newspapers.
In 1903 Sidney Riesenberg graduated from Lake View High School in Chicago, after which he began to study at the Art Institute of Chicago.
In 1905 the entire Riesenberg family moved to Yonkers New York, where they lived at 28 Greystone Terrace. Sidney Riesenberg worked at the Hudson River Museum of Art in Yonkers. He also taught art classes at the Westchester Arts Association, where he met the artist John Newton Howitt, who lived in nearby White Plains, NY.
The eldest son, Felix Riesenberg, left home and became a world famous explorer, sea captain and author of sea stories. In 1907 he was the navigator on the airship America during the first famous attempt to reach the North Pole by dirigible.
In 1912 Sidney Riesenberg's first illustrations were published in People's Home Journal, after which he illustrated interior stories for The Saturday Evening Post, as well as covers for Harper's Weekly and Boy's Life. In 1914 he painted pulp covers for The Popular Magazine.
On 1914 his father, Wilhelm Riesenberg, died at the age of sixty-four. After this tragic death Sidney Riesenberg became the head of the family and major provider for his widowed mother and two unwed sisters.
On September 12, 1918 during the Great War the artist was thirty-three, and the family's sole supporter, so he did not serve in the military. He was recorded to be of medium height and medium build, with blue eyes and brown hair. Like most American artists of his generation, Sidney Riesenberg contributed his talent to design several patriotic posters for Marine Corps Recruitment and Liberty Loan Campaigns.
Sidney Riesenberg went on to paint pulp covers for Sea Stories, High Seas Adventures, Pirate Stories, Submarine Stories, War Birds, Sky Riders, War Novels, Action Stories, Danger Trail, All Adventure, Short Stories, Complete Detective, West, Western Romances, Complete Western Book, Western Novels & Short Stories, Western Story, and Frontier Stories.
The artist's younger sister, Edith Riesenberg, was a graduate of Columbia University and earned her Master's Degree from Columbia Teachers College. She taught grade school in NYC, where she lived at 503 West 122nd Street in the campus-like neighborhood surrounding Columbia University. On May 9, 1930 she gave birth to her daughter, Anne, who she raised as a single parent.
The artist never married. He lived with his widowed mother and older sister Elsa. In 1936 the artist's mother, Emily Riesenberg, died at the age of eighty-one and was buried beside the father at Mount Hope cemetery in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY. After this tragic death the artist and his sister moved to a new home with more space for his art studio at 739 Palisades Avenue in Yonkers.
In 1937 he began to spend summers in the artistic community of Rockport, Massachusetts, where he eventually taught watercolor classes at the Rockport Art Association.
On November 19, 1939 his brother, Felix Riesenberg, died at the age of sixty in Scarsdale, NY.
On November 22, 1944 his younger sister, Edith Atheling, died at the age of fifty-four of Leukemia in NYC. Her daughter, Anne Atheling, was fourteen years old. After this tragic death the artist and his sister, Elsa Riesenberg raised their niece at their home in Yonkers.
After WWII the Riesenberg family moved to 25 Amherst Drive, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY, where the artist stopped illustrating magazines and instead concentrated on painting fine art. He also painted commissioned portraits.
In the 1950s he was an art instructor at the Westchester Workshop in White Plains, NY.
In his retirement years he and his sister moved in with their niece's family in Cambridge, MA.
Sidney Riesenberg died at age eighty-six on October 1, 1971.
© David Saunders 2009