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Born at Heilbronn, Wurtemburg, in the second or third decade of the nineteenth century, Edward Everard Arnold had settled in New Orleans by 1850. In New Orleans city directories he is listed variously as a lithographer, fancy painter, sign painter, artist, and painter of portrait, landscape, and marine subjects from that year until his death, which occurred on October 14, 1866. In 1850 he was in partnership with artist James Guy Evans. A rare survival of their collaboration is the painting of a frigate being tossed wildly about on the high seas, titled British Shop in a Storm (Groves Collection, New Orleans). Unfortunately, what was to have been their most ambitious project, a panoramic view of the city of New Orleans, was never carried out.
It is for his ship portraits, scenes of naval engagements, and other events on the high seas that Arnold is best remembered. One New Orleans newspaper, impressed by his work in this line, reported, "We have seen, recently, some beautifully modelled steamers, and admirably executed sailing vessels by Arnold; superior in style and perfect finish, to any which have preceded them. Arnold executes them as beautifully as economically."1
George Pandeley heeded the recommendation, commissioning from Arnold a portrait of the New Orleans-Mobile mail steamer Louise for his friend J. Hopkins, Louise's commander.
The War Between the States presented new challenges for Arnold's brush, which he met admirably. He produced vivid pictorial accounts of two of the South's most devastating naval defeats including Battle of Port Hudson (National Museum of American History). A second version in the Anglo-American Art Museum, Baton Rouge, Louisiana portrays the fateful events of the night of March 14-15, 1863, by which U.S. Rear Admiral David Glasgow Farragut succeeded in gaining control of the Mississippi River, thereby cutting the South in two. After Farragut won the Battle of Mobile Bay one year later, Arnold undertook a painting of the Admiral's mighty fleet steaming into the strategic Gulf port preparatory to attack. So successful was the subject that here again Arnold was called upon to produce another canvas nearly identical to it. One version was formerly in the collection of the Medford Historical Society, Medford, Massachusetts. The other, which artistically the more pleasing of the two, is owned by Robert M. Hicklin, Jr., Inc. Painting the Confederate defeats at Port Hudson and Mobile Bay, Arnold recorded two of the South's most devastating losses of the entire War, which taken together, effectively left the Confederacy cut off from foreign trade, upon which its very survival depended.
Arnold, in the Old World manner, painted a black band at the bottom of these canvases on which he inscribed the names of the ships with their commanders, and the subject, location, and date of the action, so that there is no ambiguity as to what is portrayed. Arnold infused these and other scenes with great drama while never sacrificing his careful, controlled attention to detail and accuracy. Nearly a century and a half later viewers of his paintings can feel as if they were eyewitnesses to these perilous events.
In addition to the public collections mentioned above, Arnold's work is represented in The Mariner's Museum, Newport News, Virginia; Florence Museum of Art, Science and History, South Carolina; Shelburne Museum, Vermont, and the Peabody Museum of Salem, Massachusetts.
1The Daily Orleanian, April 2, 1851.
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