Obituary (William Ranney)

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William Ranney, the celebrated artist, whose works will be remembered as prominent features at the annual exhibitions of the National Academy of Design, died last week at his residence in West Hoboken, New Jersey. The incidents of his life, though simple and characterized by no marked vicissitudes, imply a resolute determination in the pursuit of his art, rarely met. His early associations were ill calculated to nurture or develop his artistic tastes, and they seem to have sprung from an innate and irrepressible impulse. Without school or teacher he began, while working at the forge in a small village of North Carolina, to occupy his leisure in sketching the picturesque scenery of the locality. After accumulating a small amount of money, the result of his industry and frugality, he made his way to New-York, with the design of pursuing his artistic studies. But little success attended his early efforts. His meagre savings were soon exhausted and he became for a time an assistant in the office of an architect. This pursuit was not calculated to gratify the imaginative and aspiring student, and was soon abandoned. Disheartened by repeated disappointments, he made his way to Texas, and entered the service of the Republic as a volunteer under Gen. Houston. This was during the war with Mexico, and his experiences during the campaign supplied him with the material which his subsequent works embodied. As illustrations of the picturesque nomadic life of the frontiersman, these works are unique and unrivaled. They represent vividly the wild romance of the prairies, enchanting barbarism of hunter and trapper life, and the glowing scenery with which the West abounds. The freshness and vigor of these subjects lent an immediate interest to his works, several of which were engraved, and their popularity in Europe was scarcely second to that they enjoyed among his own countrymen.

For several years previous to his death he had been gradually succumbing to an incurable malady—consumption. In his death American art has experienced a severe loss, as his specialties were those in which he had no competitor, and can have no immediate successor. It is perhaps due to Mr. Ranney's comparative isolation for many years, and not to the studious neglect of his cotemporaries, that but one fellow artist, Mr. Chas. Elliott, was present at his funeral. He was in his forty-fifth year, and leaves a wife and family, we regret to learn, with but slender means of support.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1925. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).