This is a pair of incredible miniature original etchings framed side by side in a singular gilded frame. American artist John Taylor Arms (1887-1953) created these original etchings. The scenes that they represent, as well as the considerable technical skill that was required to make them, offer a glimpse into the beautiful creative mind of one of the greatest American printmakers of the first half of the 20th century.
John Taylor Arms
Educated in law and then architecture, John Taylor Arms did not pick up etching until his late 20’s. In fact, he only pursued it after receiving an etching set for Christmas from his wife. Quickly developing a passion for etching, he started studying the techniques of the old masters. John Taylor Arms honed his incredible hand and eye in creating texture, depth and light in his inked copper plates.
His subject matter followed his training in architecture, and it became his lifetime passion to portray Gothic buildings with precision and incredible detail. By 1919, Arms had abandoned his architectural firm in order to pursue a full time career in this meticulous art.
Most impressive in John Taylor Arms body of work, which makes up more than 400 different original etchings, is a perennial love of Gothic Architecture. The cathedrals of France and England, the towers of Northern Italy, and colonial architecture in Mexico, inspired the artist for the length of his career.
John Taylor Arms said of these muses, that they offer “the most significant expression of man’s aspirations.” We can see that the flying buttresses, stone arches and incredible engineered vaults represent a true combination of both beauty and engineering. His meticulous etchings recreate the repetition, exacting detail and mathematical genius of the centuries old buildings. Through his meticulous original etchings, John Taylor Arms exalts both the emotional and mathematical expression of the human spirit.
Today, John Taylor Arm’s work is represented in several museums across the country, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Library of Congress, the British Museum, the Bibliotheque Nationale Paris and the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Framed Miniature Etchings
In this pair of beautifully framed original etchings, we see these incredible themes play out in an even more impressive form. In tiny scale, and using the heads of sewing needles, John Taylor Arms has chosen two different scenes to engrave in about the space of a postage stamp.
The artist was in his 60’s when he produced these tiny original etchings. One depicts a study of the Triangular Bridge (also called the Trinity Bridge) (Edition 236 of 500) in Crowland England. The other shows Patzcuaro, Michoacan, Mexico (Edition 150 of 500), a city known for its incredible centuries of Spanish architecture. Each features the artist’s printed signature. These miniatures are each a rare and limited edition of his engravings and they represent Arm’s lifetime study of architecture.
The choice of scale, however, truly amazes people. Here, most people need a high powered magnifying glass to truly witness Arms work. It is this private experience that makes Arm’s miniatures all the more captivating. We are peering into a different and private universe, one reserved for only the most sensitive and dedicated viewers. Indeed, this makes the architectural masterpieces we are viewing all the more special.
Beautifully framed and preserved behind glass, these treasures are sure to delight all who take the time to view them.
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