Ranulph Bye – 1

Ranulph Bye circa 1936

Ranulph Bye circa 1936

Interviewee:  Ranulph Bye
Date of birth/age at interview:  June 17, 1916/69
Interviewer:  Rita Durrant
Interview date:  January 26, 1986
Interview location:  Bye home in Holicong
Interview length:  1 hour
Time span discussed:   1920s to 1980s

Summary:  This recording is not the best sound quality, despite efforts to clean it up. Fortunately Ranulph is understandable for most of the interview, but the interviewer is difficult to impossible to understand at many points. Despite this the interview is a pleasant walk through the events of his life by the famous water color artist. Without too much detail Ranulph paints a history of his family, his education, and the New Hope/Solebury scenery and its artists. The activities of gallery shows, publishing his paintings in book form, and the passions that lead him to preserve in his paintings the vanishing (railroad) depots of the East Coast are covered in detail. Also offered in detail are comments on the artist community.


Time markers:
00:00:12 – born in Princeton, father working on doctorate in History of Art; family moved to Swarthmore, PA; schooled in the area; family Quakers; school at Westtown
00:02:53 – father’s business in the art world
00:03:40 – stock market crash of 1929 and its immediate effect on the family fortunes
00:03:58 – father curator at Pennsylvania Museum of Art in Philadelphia; restorer of paintings
00:05:10 – father moves to Holicong; parents separated
00:06:03 – impression of the pastoral and picturesque areas of Bucks County, the mills in the 30s; Bye family house Byecroft
00:08:12 – canal working until the early 30s; railroads took over hauling coal
00:09:19 – father’s painting; his mother’s family were collectors of art
00:10:51 – father set up a still life to paint; early art teachers at Westtown school
00:12:14 – school field trip to studio of the illustrator N. C. Wyeth and meeting his son Andy
00:15:53 – left Westtown school, went to Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art like his father, his teachers; important period of his life
00:18:20 – graduated 1938, moved to Holicong with father
00:19:18 – specialized in school after first two years; school colleagues gifted; worked hard to learn
00:22:28 – watercolor painting took time to learn, mastering technique
00:25:08 – married 1941, drafted; war experiences of the conscientious objector ending as army medic; two children
00:26:16 – worked with father in restoration business; teacher Moore College of Art, building his own home in Mechanicsville, PA
00:27:53 – painting Buck’s County scenes; painting railway stations lead to books
00:34:00 – painted stations for love of preservation
00:35:46 – sister Margaret Bye Richie
00:38:43 – family farm; Bye’s family history from 1699
00:42:15 – artists of area:  Daniel Garber, Harry Leith-Ross, John Follinsbee, Harry Rosin, Charles Child, Edward Redfield; worked in George Sotter’s stained glass studio
00:45:00 – (indistinct)
00:46:55 – two shows a year in area; other shows farther away
00:48:21 – organizations, their shows, help in promoting artists’ work
00:49:19 – prizes from American Watercolor Society
00:50:41 – Salamagundi Club of New York City
00:51:00 – (indistinct)
00:53:53 – travels in Europe, Ireland, United States (some indistinct)
00:58:18 – development in Bucks County, mostly farms in 30s and 40s; up river for scenes to paint
01:01:38 – preservation of Bucks County country life through his paintings

Ranulph Bye recording 2.
Ranulph Bye recording 3.

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