Arrah Lee Gaul was born in Philadelphia in 1883. In a 1964 interview she revealed that she had started painting when she was eight years old, and painting her last portrait at the age of 89, made her active career span a period of 81 years. She graduated with a degree in art from the Moore Institute of Art, Science and Industry in Philadelphia. She went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania and then returned to Moore to join the faculty and become head of its art education department.
For more than 50 years she traveled the world, studying and painting as she went. On an early trip to Europe she studied with Charles Guerin in Paris. Her works were included in many European exhibits including the Beaux Arts Gallery, The Paris Salon of 1931 and the Grand Palais des Champs Elysees in Paris.
She has painted the portraits of many world figures including, members of many prominent families in India and Japan. These were completed during an extensive trip in the Far East. She had departed from Philadelphia in 1950, expecting to spend two years on a trip, which extended into seven. During the time she spent four months doing charcoal portrait sketches of hospitalized Korean War veterans at the Tokyo Army Hospital. She received a government citation for this work. In addition to Japan she spent time in Hong Kong, Thailand, and India.
She has exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art and the National Academy of Design in New York.
During the Philadelphia Sesqui-Centennial she was designated the official artist of the event and painted 60 works depicting High Street, the reconstruction of that colonial street, made possible by the women of Philadelphia. Maybe it was family pride that drew her to this project as her great-great grandfather, Johannes Schmidt, had fought in the Revolution. Her great grandfather, Christian Gaul, was a hero in the War of 1812 and her grandfather, John Parkinson Gaul, was born in the house adjoining the Besty Ross house.
The following years these High street paintings were exhibited in the all male Philadelphia Art Club and she became the first woman to hold a solo exhibition in its gallery.
A painter of landscapes, seascapes and still lifes in addition to portraits, she was a strong and guiding force in the Philadelphia art community for many years.
Biography courtesy of Roughton Galleries, www.antiquesandfineart.com/roughton