Sadly William Ranken’s childhood was rather lack luster, that of privilege and great love from his family, educated at Eaton and the Slater School of Art in England. Life of ease was certainly in the cards for Ranken. His privileged connection warranted him the connections to create a great artistic career in portraiture. Ranked painted such friends as Cole Porter, Elsie de Wolfe, Anne Morgan (of Morgan Family & de Wolfe’s lover), William & Hugh Lygon (Earl of Beauchamp and his son) and Elizabeth Maybury (another lover de Wolfe). He was also lifelong friend with John Singer Sergeant and they were lovers at one point in time.
In the early 1900’s, Ranken was introduced to American philanthropist, Isabella Stewart Gardner. Ranken would make a move to New York City during the guided age. Gardner would help Ranken get many commissions from America’s wealthiest families like the Whitney’s, Vanderbilt’s and Havermeyer’s. His clients were amazed how quickly Ranken worked with watercolor and pastels mediums. He made many portraits during his time on the continent. Ranken would eventually move back to Briton after the first war, just in time to dive back into the decadent life of Bright Young People in London.
Ranken’s success in America followed him back home. In the late 20’s he returned back to the continent to showcase his first solo show in New York City. Ranken was so successful he purchased the estate named Warbrook House in Hampshire, England. Ranken would return again to United States, sadly this stay was during the crash and start of the depression. He lost a great deal of money and eventually return back to England during it’s own depression. He was forced to sell his estate and he would move in with his sisters family home. Sadly his career never saw another great dawn, Ranked would eventually die suddenly in 1941 and a large group of his collection curated a retrospective in New York City in 1943.