Joe Rosenthal was born in Romania in 1921. He came to Canada in 1927 and served in the Canadian Armed Forces from 1942-1945. He studied at the Ontario College of Art and continued his learning on extensive sketching trips through the Northwest Territories, Mexico, Cuba, England, Holland, France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Jordan, Israel, and Egypt.
His work has been recognized with awards from the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Canada Council, and the Toronto Outdoor Exhibition. He is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy and the Ontario Society of Arts.