williamranken.org.uk is dedicated to the life and work of the artist
William Bruce Ellis Ranken
RI VPROI RP PS NPS
Williamranken.org.uk is a research project dedicated to the life and work of the Scottish born painter, William Bruce Ellis Ranken (1881-1941). Although listed somewhat inadequately in many of the standard reference dictionaries of 20th Century British artists, Ranken, like many of his contemporaries who were well regarded in their lifetimes, is now relatively unknown, un-researched and, indeed, there is no published work on him. This is reflected in the fact that, despite some 200 of his works being held by British public galleries, only one is on permanent display.
The allure of Elizabeth...
Our interest in Ranken occurred quite by chance. In 1998, whilst viewing a dealer’s stock, we came across a large oil painting of an elegant woman with an indecipherable monogram but clearly dated 1933. The dealer had purchased the work speculatively at auction but had no idea of the artist or the sitter. We were so intrigued and drawn to it that we bought it. After some time we managed to establish the painting was by William Ranken and the beautiful sitter is Elizabeth Winthrop Emmet Morgan, from the well known American Emmet family of artists.
Our growing interest in this neglected painter led to a research project on Ranken's life and work and the eventual 'launch' of williamranken.org.uk.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank a number of people who have provided us with considerable assistance so far in this project.
Firstly, the late Mrs Anne Doe, the artist’s youngest niece and Mr & Mrs David Nokes. They were most generous with their time, have proved to be invaluable sources of information and kindly allowed us unrestricted access to relevant Ranken family papers.
Another key person was Jill Springall, Archive Assistant (at the time) at the National Portrait Gallery in London, who helped us to establish that our portrait was by Ranken.
Others, too numerous to mention individually, include the staff of art galleries and museums both in the UK and America and collectors of Ranken’s work.