Arthur Lee was born in the seaport city of Trondhjem, Norway, in 1881. While still a child, he immigrated with his parents to the United States. At the age of twenty-one, he began studying sculpture under Kenyon Cox at the Art Students League in New York City and then attended the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris for five years. Several nude figures that he exhibited at the Armory Show in 1913 brought him recognition, and he was awarded a gold medal at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in 1915 for his Ethiopian, a nude male figure. Sometimes referred to by his contemporaries as the “American Maillol,” Lee was preoccupied throughout his career with the harmony of form and rhythms of the idealized nude figure. He was an instructor at the Art Students League until he opened his own drawing school in 1931. He remained committed to his strict adherence to classicism until his death in Newtown, Connecticut, in 1961.
National Museum of American Art (CD-ROM) (New York and Washington D.C.: MacMillan Digital in cooperation with the National Museum of American Art, 1996)
Arthur Lee immigrated to America with his family when he was a child, and studied at the Art Students League in New York and at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He exhibited four nude statues at the Armory Show in 1913, and later won the Widener Gold Medal for his sculpture Volupté. At one point, while working on a large commission for a patron who was unwilling to pay, Lee was about to be evicted from his apartment. The Metropolitan Museum of Art decided to buy the sculpture at the last minute, however, and Lee was saved from homelessness. The press loved this story and produced a short movie in which the artist was shown out on the street with all his belongings, still working on the sculpture and being handed his eviction papers just as a messenger arrives with the good news.