John James Strumbull Arnold


(1812–c 1865)
painted likenesses in a distinctive, linear style long after the popularization of the daguerreotype and other photographic processes made it unfashionable and impracticalto do so. In addition, he is a rare example of a portrait painter who was also a documented instructor of penmanship.Arnold was born in Reading Township, Adams County, Pennsylvania, one of eight children of Dr. John B.Arnold and Rachel Weakley Arnold. He was active as a painter of full-size and miniature portraits and as a penmanship teacher by 1841. About thirtyfive portraits have been attributed to him, painted mainly in oil on canvas,although his body of work includes a self-portrait in watercolor and ink on paper, advertising his penmanship skill, in the collection of the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. These works were largely executed in York County, Pennsylvania, although Arnold is also thought to have worked in Washington, D.C., andnorthern Virginia. Arnold consistently painted his sitters’ faces in soft shades of grayish brown, posing his adult subjects in half-length compositions while portrayingchildren full-length. His penchant for delineating facial features and hands in a precise, linear fashion may derive from his skill in penmanship. He is thought to have diedafter the end of the American Civil War, as a result of excessive alcohol consumption.
See also
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum; Miniatures; Painting, American Folk
D’Ambrosio, Paul S., and Charlotte Emans.
Folk Art’s Many Faces: Portraits in the New York State Historical Association.
Cooperstown, N.Y., 1987.Rumford, Beatrix T., ed.
American Folk Portraits: Paintings and Drawings from the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center.
Boston, 1981