Painter was a portrait of a perfect gentleman
Iwas so saddened to learn last week of the death of painter Ralph Wolfe Cowan, a friend who was well known to many a Palm Beacher for his lavish portraits.
Mr. Cowan, who died at 86 on Sept. 4 in West Palm Beach, was prolific, working on canvas after canvas during his lifetime. His color and sepia portraits captured some of the world’s most powerful and popular personas — Johnny Mathis, Debbie Reynolds and royal families, including the Sultan of Brunei and Monaco’s Princess Grace, Prince Rainier and Prince Albert.
He was the portrait painter of Imelda and Ferdinand Marcos, and also painted images of President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan, as well as other members of presidential families. I recall a handsome portrait of first lady Rosalynn and President Jimmy Carter, which hung on the staircase walls of the Marcoses’
New York residence on 66th Street.
Ralph also did portraits of those in Palm Beach society, including a famous one of President Donald Trump, but painted long before he moved into the White House. I’m sure many of you have seen it: He is wearing a white V-neck tennis sweater edged in red and royal blue. The painting now hangs in the bar at Mar-a-Lago.
I worked with Ralph on a number of projects. Some years ago for the President Parlor at