Ralph Wolfe Cowan

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Ralph Wolfe Cowan
Ralph Wolfe Cowan.jpg
Ralph Cowan at a charity event, 1999.
Born(1931-12-16)December 16, 1931
DiedSeptember 4, 2018(2018-09-04) (aged 86)
Known forPortrait Painting
Judith Page Timson
(m. 1962; div. 1964)

Ralph Wolfe Cowan (December 16, 1931 – September 4, 2018) was an American portrait artist. He has painted more reigning monarchs and heads of state than any artist in history.[1][2]

Personal life[edit]

Ralph Cowan was born in 1931, in Phoebus, Virginia, US.[3][2] He was the son of Joseph Carl and Daphne (Pearce) Cowan.

Known as "RW" to his friends, he served as a paratrooper with United States Army, 1950-1953.[4] His work spanned seven decades, from 1940’s NYC until his death.[5] A Member of the American Society Portrait Painters, American Portrait Society, Allied Artists Association, Portrait Institute.[citation needed]

His life and work are the subject of the 2015 feature length documentary The Last Old Master.[6]

Cowan died in his hometown, West Palm Beach, on September 4, 2018.[7]

Notable portrait paintings[edit]

The Sultan of Brunei, King Fahd, King Hassan II, President Shaikh Zayed of the Emirates, the Royal Family of Monaco, Mikhail Gorbachev, U.S. Presidents Reagan, Carter, Johnson, Kennedy. and Trump, and the only Elvis commissioned portrait, the only portrait Elvis ever allowed to hang in Graceland. Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Nancy Sinatra, Steve Wynn.[2]

Cowan had a longstanding relationship with the Royal Family of Monaco, and first painted Princess Grace in 1956. His 1969 portrait of Elvis Presley hangs at Graceland, and was included in the National Portrait Gallery's 2010 exhibition "One Life: Echoes of Elvis".[3]


  1. ^ "State Portraiture". Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  2. ^ Aydlette, Larry. "Artist who painted Trump portrait in Mar-a-Lago". Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  3. ^ "Home - The Last Old Master". The Last Old Master. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  4. ^ "Home - The Last Old Master". The Last Old Master. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  5. ^ "The man who painted this portrait". palmbeachdailynews. 6 September 2018. Retrieved 9 September 2018.

External links[edit]