Thomas Arrowsmith, a deaf artist, painted this Miniature of A Lady Wearing A Mop Cap. This miniature was acquired by the Deaf Museum & Archive from Anderson and Garland Auctioneers, Newcastle, in 2014.
Who was Thomas Arrowsmith?
Thomas was born deaf in 1771 in Newent, Gloucestershire, the fourth son of six children of Nathaniel and Elizabeth Arrowsmith. His early years were described in the book The Art of Instructing the Infant Deaf and Dumb, published in 1819, the author being Thomas’ younger brother John. When he was about four or five, he was educated in a local hearing school at the insistence of his mother. At school he was taught to read and write but not to speak. He was able to attain a good command of written English. It is not known where he was educated after leaving the village school but it is believed that at the age of 12 or 13 he entered Braidwood’s Academy for the Deaf and Dumb in Mare Street, Hackney, London.
He first exhibited at Somerset House in 1792. In later years he painted several of his teachers and fellow pupils. He was a prolific painter, doing many miniatures and the occasional large portraits. In 1812 he married Elizabeth Carpenter who may have been be deaf too. They went up North, living in various places such as Lancashire, Liverpool and Manchester. It is not known when Thomas died but it is believed that he died in 1829-30.
Portrait of Thomas Arrowsmith