Devil of Notre Dame by John Taylor Arms

Devil of Notre Dame by John Taylor Arms

Devil of Notre Dame

John Taylor Arms

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Devil of Notre Dame

Image Size
8 x 5 1/2" platemark 
pencil, lower margin and again on the verso; in plate, upper right. 
Edition Size
early proof aside from the published edition of 251 
pencil inscribed "Collection A" in lower left and dated after the signature in the lower right; pencil titled along lower sheet edge and pencil signed a second time on verso; also inscribed in plate in upper right: John Taylor Arms 1929 [Fletcher notes th 
Fletcher 222; Gargoyle Series #13; Arms 224; LOC 88 
light gray antique laid ledger paper 
Inventory ID

John Taylor Arms was fascinated by what he termed the Gothic Spirit in early Gothic architecture. One of his focuses was on the elaborate waterspouts on the cathedrals, carved in the shapes of "gargoyles". In 1920 he began a series of 41 prints featuring various gargoyles and grotesques of the French cathedrals. It is reported that he would climb out to the facade to a building in order to get what he felt was the best angle for an etching.

This Devil of Notre Dame is a fabulous 19th century addition to the façade of the Gothic Notre Dame Cathedral. It was created under the supervision of the architect Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc during a major renovation. This creature is actually a chimèra as it doesn't function as a water spout. It is perched above a horizontal gargoyle on the balustrade of the cathedral's Galerie des Chimères, a balcony that connects the two bell towers. The chimères are grotesque, frightening, and fanciful statues that were thought to ward off evil spirits. John Taylor Arms was a trained architect who felt very deeply that man's greatest achievements in architecture are evidenced in the cathedrals and churches from the Gothic era.

John Taylor Arms, printmaker, lecturer, illustrator, and administrator, was born in Washington, D.C. on 19 April 1887. He first studied law at Princeton University but transferred to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study architecture, earning a Master's Degree in 1912. He studied with Ross Turner, David A. Gregg, and Felton Brown. For five years after his graduation Arms worked for the architectural firm Carrere and Hastings, before establishing his own architectural firm of which he was a partner.

A gift of an etching kit from his wife, Dorothy, changed the course of his life. He produced his first etching in 1915 and he eventually produced 441 prints, mostly etchings. Arms became one of the most famous printmakers of the first half of the twentieth century. He is mostly noted for his etchings of medieval architecture but early subjects also included ships, sailboats, airplanes, rural landscapes, and the streets, buildings, and bridges of New York.

Arms' exhibition history was lengthy beginning in 1927 and continuing to 1952. He authored 'Hand-Book of Print Making and Print Makers' in 1934 and illustrated 'Churches of France' and 'Hill Towns and Cities of Northern Italy' by his wife, Dorothy Noyes Arms. His work can be found in most major collections of American prints.

Arms was an activist for printmaking and assisted in assembling exhibitions of American graphic art that were shown in Sweden, Czechoslovakia and Rome; he was editor of the Print Department of Print, A Quarterly Journal of the Graphic Arts, and he lectured on the techniques, history and value of original prints. Arms also served as the president of the Tiffany Foundation in 1940. John Taylor Arms died in New York City on 15 October 1953.


Please call us at 707-546-7352 or email to purchase this item.