Taylor Arms, John (1887-1953), 'Venetian Mirror', Etching, 1935

'Venetian Mirror', Etching, 1935

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Signed in pencil lower right. Inscribed 'Ed 100 II'.

John Taylor Arms's 'Venetian Mirror', a splendid etched view of Venice's majestic Grand Canal, the island city's major waterway, features three Renaissance palaces: the Ca' Rezzonico, the Ca' Foscari, and, across the canal, the Palazzo Balbi. With remarkable accuracy, Arms crisply delineated the stone walls and windows of their elegant facades, which are reflected on the water's mirror-like surface. At left, near a cluster of moored boats, a gondola glides across the canal. To visually anchor the foreground at the lower left, Arms included steps leading to the water's edge; these were near the spot from which he observed and drew the actual scene. He then transferred it to the etching plate, but due to the nature of the printmaking process, the image was reversed when the etching was printed.

This print is an excellent example of the artist's mastery of architectural etching at mid-career. With an astonishing repertory of lines - some almost microscopic - Arms achieved an extraordinary verisimilitude of textures, details, and shimmering tonal nuances of light and shadow. Arms greatly admired the distinctive etchings of Venice made in the 1880s by the influential American expatriate artist James McNeill Whistler, but he developed a quite different graphic style. In contrast to Whistler's loose and sketchy etched lines that sparely depict typical Venetian scenes, as for example in his 'Upright Venice', in 'Venetian Mirror' Arms tightly rendered one of Italy's most celebrated sights with almost photographic exactitude.

'Venetian Mirror' is the last of twenty-seven prints Arms executed for his "Italian Series," which he began in 1925 with views of Florence. In 1930, Arms and his wife traveled to Venice, which was the subject of several masterful etchings he made between 1930 and 1935.
- Terra Foundation

Plate/image Size 16.1 x 35.8 cm
Sheet Size 26.1 x 46.8 cm
Reference Fletcher 289 ii
Collection Terra Foundation

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