Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Norfolk Naval Shipyard by John Taylor Arms

This is a 1942 etching of Norfolk Naval Shipyard by nationally-known Gothic artist John Taylor Arms. It shows the battleship Alabama (BB-60) being made ready for war and the craneship/ex-battleship Kearsarge (at right) at Norfolk Naval Shipyard. This is one of several Arms prints that are currently in the museum's collection.

Known mostly for his detailed drawings and prints of churches and cityscape scenes in Europe and the United States, Arms frequently sketched and printed U.S. Naval warships. This is possibly due to the fact that he served as an officer in the U.S. Navy during World War I. After the war, he attended Princeton Law School before transferring to M.I.T. to train as an architect. In the 1930s, he decided to devote all of his time to his art and teaching. His 1934 work, Handbook of Print Making and Print Makers, is one of the central textbooks on the subject.

Arms' skill as an artist is lauded for his ability to extract every little detail from his subject. He used sewing needles and magnifying glasses to achieve the level of detail seen in his work. The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., has more than sixty of Arms' drawings in their collection. Some of them can be seen here.

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