The Speed Art Museum will present “Forging An American Identity: The Art of William Ranney” September 29–January 1.
The exhibition features 60 paintings of American life by this early Nineteenth Century painter. One of this country’s greatest narrative painters, Ranney depicted portraits, hunting and sporting scenes, lighthearted genre scenes and historical subjects and through these descriptions, helped develop the concept of an American character.
He also told the story of Western expansion and painted vivid images of the West. Created at a time when the United States was first developing and establishing its identity, Ranney’s vibrant depictions serve as pictorial stories that chronicle this significant period in American history.
Ranney’s subjects represent the diversity of early America — from a Revolutionary War hero to a family headed West toward a new life and from the festivity of a Virginia wedding to the profound grief of burying one’s child on the prairie.
Exhibition curator Sarah E. Boehme explains, “Many of Ranney’s Western works focus on the unnamed figures of history, thus asserting the importance of the average person in developing the nation and its identity. Ranney’s paintings convey important concepts about American character through his dramatic visualizations.”
“Forging an American Identity: The Art of William Ranney” is organized by the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, Wyo.
The Speed Art Museum is at 2035 South Third Street. For information, 502-634-2700 or www.speedmuseum.org.