|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Born in Middletown, Connecticut, William Ranney devoted his career to
depicting the West. As a young man, he apprenticed to a tinsmith
in Fayetteville, North Carolina, having abandoned his study of art in
New York City after the death of his sea-captain father. To find
adventure, he joined in 1836 the Texas army in its fight for
independence against Mexico, and this period, very brief, was his only
experience on the frontier. It is likely that he met trappers on
this venture, as several of his most popular paintings including The Trappers Last Shot, were based on a rowdy rendezvous with trapper Joseph Meek in Yellowstone Park.|
this period of western adventure, he returned to Brooklyn where he
lived, working in and around New York City for the next ten
years. In 1853, he moved his family to West Hoboken, New Jersey
and built a studio large enough for animals including horses. The
walls were decorated with western items such as saddles, guns and
His paintings included portraits and romanticized
Revolutionary War history paintings and focused on pioneers, trappers,
and scouts, especially Daniel Boone, opening up the frontier. He
also did numerous hunting scenes from the New Jersey marshes. He
was popular among his fellow artists, and after his death his fellow
members of the National Academy had a memorial show to raise funds for
Harold and Peggy Samuels, "Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West"
Peter Hassrick, "Drawn to Yellowstone"
William Ranney was born on May 9, 1813 in Middletown, Connecticut. He spent six
years in the hill country of North Carolina. Having abandoned his
study of art in New York City, he was apprenticed to a tinsmith in
Fayetteville after the death of his sea captain father. Two years
later he went to Texas where he joined the Texas army in its fight for
independence against Mexico; this brief period was his only experience
on the frontier.
With the encouragement of the American Art
Union, he executed three types of Western subjects: the Western trapper
pursuing a dangerous life on the prairies; the pioneer family, heading
across the plains with children, dogs and goods; and the dangers of
He had returned to Brooklyn, New York, where he lived and worked for
the next ten years. In 1853 the family moved to Hoboken, New Jersey
where he built a studio large enough for animals including
horses. The walls were decorated with saddles, guns and swords.
Ranney died in West Hoboken, New Jersey on November 18, 1857.
Written and submitted by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.
Glenn Opitz, Editor: Mantle Fielding's Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors and Engravers, 1986-87
From the Internet, www.AskART.com and www.artnet.com
|Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, III:|
|William Ranney, son of a captain in the West Indies trade, was
apprenticed from 1826 to 1833 to a tinsmith in Fayetteville, North
Carolina where he had relatives. He interrupted his painting
studies in Brooklyn, New York to enlist in the Texan Army in 1836 to
avenge the Alamo. While serving as paymaster, he was deeply
influenced both by the military and the trappers and hunters gathered
in Texas. For the rest of Ranney's career, he remembered
their garb and anecdotes as romantic prairie life. |
He was back in Brooklyn in 1837, established as a portrait painter by
1838. In 1843 his studio was in Manhattan. By 1848 he was in Weehawken,
and by 1853 in West Hoboken, New Jersey where his studio was “so
constructed as to lead a visitor to imagine he had entered a pioneer’s
cabin or border chieftain’s hut.”
Ranney was a sportsman, playing with the New York Cricket Club until
1854. He was described as a “glorious fellow” by Wiilliam Sidney
Mount, and his artist friends rallied to the support of his family
after his death from consumption. Paintings for a benefit auction
were donated by 95 artists including; Church, Bierstadt, Tait, Kensett,
Inness, and the Harts.
Ranney’s Western paintings did not begin until almost 10 years after
his return from Texas. His approach was to tell a dramatic story
about the white hunters and pioneers, ignoring the panoramic landscape
and minimizing the role of the Indians.
He was an important member of the new American genre school, and the
leader of the school, Mount, thought enough of Ranney to complete
paintings left in Ranney’s studio. Ranney’s work was reproduced at the
time by the American Art-Union.
Peggy and Harold Samuels, Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West
|** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.|
William Ranney is also mentioned in these AskART essays: