Francis W. Edmonds, Grinding the Scythe, 1856
Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait, The Latest News, 1862
Detail, Louis Lang, Return of the 69th (Irish) Regiment, N.Y.S.M., from the Seat of War, N.Y., 1862
The middle decades of the nineteenth century produced loads of fascinating "genre" (everyday life) paintings (as well as artists who favored using their full names, like George Caleb Bingham, William Sidney Mount, and Richard Caton Woodville), and I feel like I've seen the red-sleeved look somewhere before. But I've yet to find any other such paintings. The fashion appeared rarely in print, as in an 1857 notice from the Canton neighborhood of Baltimore. The unfortunate drowned man was clearly a laborer, based on his layered work clothes.
The Sun, July 21, 1857
It's hard to say if this pattern represents some sort of broader fashion trend or a more idiosyncratic practice. But, lest we think this interesting look was solely a painter's invention, I'll end with an incredible circa 1850 daguerreotype of two blacksmiths with tinted red sleeves. Don't miss the pleat-front shirt of the smith facing the viewer and the striped braces of the one facing away. While also an artistic view (with tinting not necessarily corresponding to true colors), this photograph is another example of a forgotten mid-nineteenth century working man's fashion.
Foresta and Wood, Secrets of the Dark Chamber, 73