POSSIBLY ELIZABETH C. ARNOLD. “The State Lunatic Hospital at Taunton.” Taunton, Bristol County, Massachusetts, circa 1893.


Oil on canvas, 16 x 24, inches, in original silver gilt frame

Faintly signed on verso: “Oct 13 189- / Painted by – Arnold”

In a fine state of preservation, unlined on its original pine stretchers.

In the same tradition of the well-known Pennsylvania Almshouse Painters, this view of The State Lunatic Hospital at Taunton was painted with meticulous attention to detailing by an artist identified as “Arnold,” who, like the Almshouse Painters, was an inmate in the late 19th century.

It is one of three known oil paintings of this subject by this artist. A nearly identical example is illustrated in Nina Fletcher Little, Land and Seascape, As Observed By The Folk Artist, An Exhibition from the Collection of Bertram K. and Nina Fletcher Little (Williamsburg, VA: Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Collection, 1969), no. 37, p. 24, described as “Taunton Lunatic Asylum, 1893, Oil on canvas, 14 x 23 ½, Arnold. Inscribed on stretcher: “Taunton Lunatic Asylum. Painted for C. R. Barlow in June 1893 by a patient named Arnold. Barstow worked on the east and west wings built in 1892 and 1893. Chester R. Barstow was a carpenter who resided on High Street in Taunton.

The third example is nearly identical but appears to lack human figures is illustrated in “American Folk Paintings and Watercolors,” Sotheby’s, New York, April 30, 1981, lot 46, identified as “Taunton Asylum, Massachusetts, oil on canvas, 16 x 24 ½ inches.



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