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Photograph of Ranulph Bye. Gift of the artist. James A. Michener Art Museum archives.

Painter Ranulph Bye is considered one of the foremost watercolorists in the country and produced over three thousand watercolors. Bye was known for his masterful rendering of rural American landscapes, seascapes, and buildings. He painted many sites throughout the country for his books on Victorian architecture and old railway depots but found his greatest inspiration in the landscapes of Bucks County. His works are characterized by superior draughtsmanship and the ability to capture the essence of the scene painted. Bye preferred watercolors to other media because he felt that there was greater freedom from many of the technical demands of oil painting. After training at the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts) and the Art Students League of New York, Bye exhibited his watercolor and oil paintings both locally and nationally.

Bye, who had strong ties to the New Hope art community, was very interested in preserving the essence of Bucks County history in his work. His family has been in the area since 1699, when they received a land-grant from William Penn. Bye's own father, painter Dr. Arthur E. Bye, was also a part of the local art community, serving as curator of paintings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Bye published several books of his work, including Victorian Sketchbook and the Vanishing Depot, both of which deal with representations of historical structures and several instructional books on painting in watercolor.

Bye became a National Academician in 1994. National Academicians are professional artists and architects who are elected to membership at the Academy by their peers annually. Bye was also a member of the American Watercolor Society, AWS.

In 2015, the Michener Art Museum mounted a major retrospective of his work, A Sense of Place: Paintings by Ranulph Bye with the installation of more than 40 of his works from private collections. The exhibition was co-curated by his wife, artist Glenna Bye.

Photograph of Ranulph Bye. Gift of the artist. James A. Michener Art Museum archives.

Education & Community

Education and Training
Philadelphia College of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1938
Art Students League of New York, New York, New York, 1939-1940
Study with Henry C. Pitz, 1938; Frank V. DuMond, William C. Palmer, 1939-1940

Teachers and Influences

His father, Arthur E. Bye, who was also a painter
Henry Pitz, Frank DuMond, William Palmer

Connection to Bucks County
The Bye family lived in Bucks County since 1699 on land granted from William Penn. Ranulph Bye painted the Bucks County Pictorial Map and is noted for his representations of Bucks County landscapes. Bye was involved with the Bucks County Council for the Arts and exhibited regularly at Phillips' Mill Annual Art Exhibitions in New Hope. He was the author and illustrator of Ranulph Bye's Bucks County as well as Victorian Sketchbook, The Vanishing Depot , and several instructional books on painting in watercolor. He resided in Mechanicsville, Bucks County, with his wife, painter Glenna Lange Bye.

Colleagues and Affiliations
Bye's wife, painter Glenna Lange Bye, and his father Arthur E. Bye, Ph.D., a doctor and a painter
Bucks County Challenge Juror, Bucks County Council on the Arts,
Phillips' Mill Community Association

Ranulph Bye.


Major Solo Exhibitions
Coryell Gallery, Lambertville, New Jersey, 1997
Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2002
A Sense of Place: Paintings by Ranulph Bye, Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 2015

Major Group Exhibitions
National Academy of Design, New York, New York
Allied Artists of America, New York, New York
American Watercolor Society, New York, New York, 1941, 1945
Philadelphia Watercolor Club, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1937-1945
Boise Art Association, Boise, Idaho, 1943, 1944
Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, Maryland, 1946
The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., 1967
The William Penn Memorial Museum, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 1969
The Art Association of Harrisburg, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 1973
Salmagundi Club, New York, New York, 1975, 1977
Newman Galleries, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1977, 1980
Hahn Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1990
Coryell Gallery, Lambertville, New Jersey, 1987, 1990, 1992, 1994
Bargeron Gallery, Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania, 1989
Phillips' Mill Annual Art Exhibition, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 1967, 1989, 1993, 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999
Objects of Desire: Treasures from Private Collections
, Michener Art Museum, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 2005-2006
Bucks County and the Philadelphia Sketch Club
, Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 2010

Major Collections
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts
Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Utica, New York
Moore College of Art and Design, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The Woodmere Art Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.


Christmas Card for American Artists Group
Calendar paintings for Equitable Life Assurance Society
The Connecticut Life Insurance Company
New York Life Insurance Company
Pictorial Map of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, 1984


Victorian Sketchbook
, 1980
Ranulph Bye's Bucks County
, 1988
Ranulph Bye's Bucks County: A Selection of 100 Paintings
, 1989
Painting Buildings in Watercolor
, 1994
The Vanishing Depot
, 1973, 1989, 1994

Seascapes and Landscapes in Watercolor, 1956
The Philadelphia Inquirer
, 1965, 1966, 1969
American Heritage
, 1966

Awards & Appointments

Teaching and Professional Appointments
Instructor of Art, Moore College of Art (now Moore College of Art and Design), 1948-1979

Major Awards
Twenty-four Salmagundi Club Prizes, 1958-2003
Prize, Boise Art Association, 1943
Prize, Army Art Contest, 1945
Prize, Baltimore Museum of Art, 1946
Gold Medal, National Arts Club, New York, 1963
American Watercolor Society Purchase Prize, 1964
The K&E Hirshberg Award, Baltimore Watercolor Club, 1965
The John L. Ernst Award, American Watercolor Society, 1966
National Arts Club, 1966
Patrons Prize, Phillips' Mill Annual Art Exhibition, 1967
Van Sciver Prize, The Woodmere Art Gallery, 1969
William Church Osbourne Memorial Prize, American Watercolor Society, 1971
Harrison Morris Prize, The Woodmere Art Gallery, 1971
Emily Goldsmith Award, American Watercolor Society, 1973
Garden State Water Color Society, 1971-1974, 1977-1978
Merit Award, National Academy of Design, 1976
Louis E. Seley Cash Purchase Prize, Salmagundi Club, 1978
1st Prize Watercolor, Philadelphia Sketch Club, 1983
Presidents Award, National Arts Club, 1984
Phillips' Mill Awards, 1989, 1993, 1994, 1997
Henry Gasser Memorial Award, Allied Artists, 1989
Obrig Prize, National Academy, 1993

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