Historical Note


As a lecturer, adviser and practitioner of art restoration, as well as a painter, curator, and scholar, Arthur Edwin Bye's career in the fine arts took several paths, often at the same time. Born December 18, 1885 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Bye completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania and earned his M.A. and Ph.D. at Princeton University. He also studied at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere in Paris, and with the landscapes artists Charles Rosen and John Carlson. Like the former artist, Bye painted the scenic countryside of Bucks County, an area northwest of Philadelphia. His son, Ranulph, would later do the same.

In 1922, Bye joined the staff of the Philadelphia Museum of Art as Curator of Paintings and served in that position through 1928. By the next year he was working in the Philadelphia area, restoring paintings, and for at least one prominent family, the John D. McIlhennys, decorative art objects, as well. In addition to his restoration practice, Bye was an art dealer for most of his life.

Bye's ties to academia were also wide and varied. According to a 1943 issue of Chapel Hill Weekly, Bye did restoration work on several portraits at the University of North Carolina, and was involved in "official restoration" projects for Vassar College, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Reading Museum. Beginning in 1926, Bye was the technical adviser to the art department at Princeton University, a position he held for two decades. He was a professor of art at several institutions, including Vassar College, Lafayette College and the University of North Carolina.

As an author, Bye published five books on art history, two on his family's history and Quaker genealogy, as well as various articles. He died on November 4, 1969.

Works Consulted

AskART, s.v. Arthur Edwin Bye," "Charles Rosen" and "John Fabian Carlson." The American artists bluebook. Database artist numbers, respectively: 120136, 23864 and 5778.

"Bucks County Artists, s.v. Arthur E. Bye." Interactive database. James A. Michener Art Museum. 24 Feb. 2996.

Falk, Peter H., ed., et al. Who was who in American art, 1564-1975: 400 years of artists in America. Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1999.

Henry P. McIlhenny Papers. Art collection series. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives. "Dealers, museums and others" subsries includes folder of correspondence and invoices with Bye.

"University's old portraits are to be restored." Chapel Hill Weekly. 22 Jan. 1943. The Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies Online Reference Desk. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.