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John Taylor Arms
(Washington, D.C., 1887 - 1953, New York)
The so-called Etching Revival, from the mid 19th through the early 20th century inspired several generations of artists to re-examine the technique and explore what they believed to be its “true” nature. Among the last and most influential Americans of the Revival was John Taylor Arms (1887–1953), a successful architect turned master draughtsman and above all printmaker. Inspired by a lifelong interest in French art and architecture, Arms traveled extensively in Europe and studied Gothic architecture. In particular, the great cathedrals of France captivated him with their audacious construction, sheer mass, and elaborate detail. The perfect union of what he later called “spiritual conception and technical expression”, they became his favorite subject. The same phrase could be applied to Arms’s own works, phenomenal in their linear and textural detail and at the same time sensitive and humble in their execution. Admired as both an artist and teacher, Arms devoted his life to supporting printmakers and their work, serving for many years as the president of the National Society of American Etchers, and writing a Handbook of Print Making and Print Makers, which is still considered an essential reference