W. Tylee Ranney was born in 1913 in Middletown (CT). Between 1826 and 1833 he was an apprentice to a tinsmith in Fayetteville (NC). In 1833 he returned North and studied drawing and painting in Brooklyn (NY). In 1836 he served as a volunteer in the army of the Republic of Texas. The exposure to the mountain men who served in the war and the haunting solitude of the Plains inspired the Western genre scenes he began to paint in the late 1840s. In 1837 he resumed art studies in Brooklyn. The following year he exhibited for the first time at the National Academy of Design (elected Associate 1850). Between 1839 and 1842 he may have revisited North Carolina and Texas. In 1843 he opened a portrait studio in New York and began to exhibit regularly at the American Art Union. He established a reputation for sporting pictures and historical genre scenes as well as Western subjects. By 1850 he had built a house and studio in West Hoboken (NJ). There he died after several years of ill health on 18 November 1857.

Elizabeth Garrity Ellis