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Pope, Arthur Upham

    Full Name: Pope, Arthur Upham

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1881

    Date Died: 1969

    Place Born: Phenix, RI, USA

    Place Died: Shiraz, Fārs, Iran

    Home Country/ies: United States

    Subject Area(s): archaeology and Persian (culture)


    Archaeologist and historian of Persian art. Pope was the son of a Baptist minister, Louis Atherton Pope and his mother, Imogene Titus Pope. He graduated from Brown University in 1904, remaining on the faculty to teach philosophy. He married Bertha Clark, later the author Bertha Damon, in 1905. Pope attended graduate school at Brown, Cornell and Harvard, taught the University of California 1910-1917. After his divorce to Clark, he married fellow Persianist art historian, Phyllis Ackerman, in 1920. In 1923, Pope was appointed director of the San Francisco Museum. Two years later, he went to Iran to complete research and serve as an art advisor to the Iranian government. He organized an exhibition and the First International Congress on Persian Art in Philadelphia in 1926. In 1928 he founded the American Institute for Persian Art and Archaeology (later the American Institute for Iranian Art and Archaeology and ultimately the Asia Institute) in New York city and incorporated 1930 in New York. He traveled around the world giving lectures and curating exhibitions of Persian art. In 1930, he edited the Survey of Persian Art. In 1934 he hired the budding Islamicist Richard Ettinghausen. The Institute became the Asia Society in 1947. During this time he supported himself by consulting on Persian art acquisitions. He reliquished his duties in 1953 (succeeded by James Landis) to devote himself to research and writing. Her served on the Council for Soviet-American Friendship board during World War II (1943-1949). However, as the cold war heighted afterward, Pope was interrogated by the Subversive Activities Control Board in 1954 The International Association of Iranian Art elected him president in 1960. He and his wife settled in Itran. He suffered a heart attack and died in 1969. His request to be buried in Isfahan, Iran was supplemented with the Shah’s order to erect a special mausoleum for Pope. In art literature, Pope is sometimes confused with the Harvard fine arts instructor, Arthur Pope (1880-1974).

    Selected Bibliography

    An Introduction to Persian Art Since the Seventh century A D.. London: P. Davies, 1930; and Ackerman, Phyllis. A Survey of Persian Art from Prehistoric Times to the Present. 6 vols. New York: Oxford University Press, 1938-58; Masterpieces of Persian Art.; New York: The Dryden Press 1945; Persian Architecture. London: Thames and Hudson, 1965;. Persian Architecture: the Triumph of Form and Color. New York, G. Braziller, 1965; Introducing Persian Architecture Tehran: Soroush Press, 1976.


    The Dictionary of Art 25: 234; [obituary:] “Arthur Pope, 88, Expert on Iran, Leading Authority on Old Persian Culture, Dies.” New York Times September 4, 1969 p. 47.


    "Pope, Arthur Upham." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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