John Taylor ARMS
"I cannot etch what I do not love."
Printmaker John Taylor Arms' (1887-1953) passion for rendering the gothic cathedrals he believed were man's most outstanding architectural achievements drove him to create over 400 plates throughout his 50-year career.
He trained as an architect at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and began his artistic career in 1916––after he received an etching set from his wife––by depicting the architecture of New York City. His first subject was the Brooklyn Bridge. Over the next several decades, Arms traveled throughout France, Italy, England, and Spain, drawing and taking careful note of light, texture, and the fine details of the Gothic structures that so powerfully inspired him.
Back in his Connecticut studio, he used fine-gauge sewing needles and magnifying glasses to get an exacting level of architectural precision within each plate. The finished prints reveal an industrious draftsman and technical virtuoso. He was known for spending as much as 1000 hours on each composition.
In addition to medieval subjects, Arms made a series of prints of American cities and etched naval warships throughout World War II.
John Taylor Arms died in Fairfield, Connecticut, in 1953. With prints in countless major collections, including the Library of Congress, the British Museum, and the Bibliotheque Nationale, his legacy as one of the most revered American printmakers of the 20th century remains powerful to this day.
ARMS, John Taylor
Etching, printed on laid paper. Reference: Fletcher 248. From the French Church Series, plate 34. Signed and dated, and annotated “II” in pencil.