Friday, August 13, 2010

The Dogs of Will Rannells (And a Contest!)

Somewhere between Cassius M. Coolidge’s Dogs Playing Poker and William Wegman’s elegant and complex Weimaraners, lie Will Rannells’ canine men of the world.
“What's on the 6th floor?” a history and special collections blog of The San Francisco Public Library, recently featured these Life magazine covers (not to be confused with LIFE, the Henry Luce publication), by Rannells (1892-1982).
Early on, Rannells found that his paintings of dogs set him apart from other artists. It is reported that he thought they were much better subjects than the beautiful girls he had previously been drawing. In fact, his first commercial success (at age 19) was a portrait of a collie that had previously been held in the arms of a girl. When he realized the dog was better off without the human figure, he painted the dog alone and sold it for $40. It later appeared on the June 1, 1912 cover of Country Gentleman. He went on to illustrate for the magazines Life, Judge and McCalls, as well as for a number of children's books.
Will Rannells became an art professor at The Ohio State University, where he taught painting and advertising design. He was active in the Humane Society and was known locally for his efforts to rescue stray animals and for his opposition to vivisection.”
To truly acknowledge the dog days of summer you must head over to Newmanology and partake of, either as a participant or an observer The Newmanology Dog Days of Summer Dog Magazine Cover Contest. There is already a fantastic gallery up, with new additions coming in fast and furious. Add your canine contestant to the mix. Still needed: a bejeweled lady-dog (not just any bitch with bling, must be canine).

Will Rannells covers (starting from the top): "Putting on the Dog," Life (Nov. 3, 1927);
"The Dog Star,"Life (July 16, 1914); "R.F.D.," Life (Dec. 16, 1915);
"An Old Sea Dog," Life (Sept. 3, 1925); Country Gentleman (June 1, 1912);
"Never Again," Life (Jan. 15, 1920). Life courtesy Schmulowitz Collection of Wit & Humor; Country Gentleman courtesy Magazines & Newspaper Center, San Francisco Public Library.


  1. Those are great illustrations. I just love the dtective one up at the top. They would make for a great design to go on the side of dog carriers.

  2. Hi Wilson,

    We have this magazine and others with Rannells work and many other talented artists that would make a great many things like your comment. I have always wanted to use some of the art we have and make other things, I see where they are making prints of this so maybe his work is not copyrighted? We have many ideas but need a venture capitalist to help fund these ideas and others. His work is beautiful like many other artist of the time.

  3. These postings are fairly old now. My mother knew Will and carpooled with him to work at Curtis Wright in Columbus, Ohio during WWII. I met him as a young girl of 3 or 4.


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