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John Taylor Arms
Guardians of the Spire (Amiens Cathedral Number 2)

1921

About the Item

Guardians of the Spire (Amiens Cathedral Number 2). 1921. Etching. Fletcher 102. 6 3/4 x 9 7/8 (sheet 8 7/8 x 13 3/4). Gargoyle Series #4. Edition 75. Illustrated: Dorothy Noyes Arms, Churches of France p.20. A rich impression printed on cream-colored antique laid paper. Signed and dated in pencil. Housed in a 16 x 20-inch archival mat, suitable for framing. John Tayler Arms was born on April 19, 1887, in Washington D.C., and studied law at Princeton University and then transferred to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study architecture, earning a master's degree in 1912. For five years after his graduation, he worked for Carrere and Hastings, an architectural firm and then became a partner in another firm named Clark and Adams. In 1913, he made his first etching and by 1927 began exhibiting his architectural etchings at the National Arts Club and the Salmagundi Club in New York. He also worked in aquatint and drypoint and often combined the three methods. In addition to medieval architecture, he etched scenes of Maine and a series of American cities. Arms became one of the most famous printmakers of the early 20th century. He was known for his medieval architectural etchings that combined precise realism with a sense of soaring spirituality. He believed that Gothic architecture was man's greatest achievement, uniting spiritual and aesthetic values, and was best known for his renderings of gargoyles and European churches. He was remarkably prolific, considering that he worked slowly and deliberately and spent much time traveling, writing, and lecturing. He was a member of principal art organizations including the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and he wrote several books on prints and printmaking including "Handbook on Printmaking and Printmakers." Arms etched 429 prints before his death on October 15, 1953, at age 66. John Taylor Arms (1887–1953) is one of the foremost American printmakers of the first half of the 20th century. Trained as an architect, he spent the majority of his 50-year career documenting Europe’s great Gothic churches. Arms believed that art could be a tool for the spiritual and moral improvement of mankind and that Gothic cathedrals represented “the most significant expression of man’s aspirations.” He viewed printmaking as a vehicle for disseminating images of subjects that would uplift and inspire contemporary society.
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