1 January 0001
The story of Ralph Wolfe Cowan (RW) is a kind of rags-to-riches of epic, fable-like proportion. A classic American tale of pursuing your dreams to wherever they take you and constantly rising to the challenges they present. Raised in a modest home, in small town America, during WWII, RW demonstrated a talent, focus, passion and charisma that propelled him to a life beyond his wildest imaginings. RW was a true child prodigy. A paratrooper in the US Army. Has battled his personal demons and come out on top, with an incredible spiritual outlook on life. He's traveled the globe many times with little more than a backpack and a paintbrush only to find himself the royal guest at palaces from The United Arab Emirates to Monaco. He's painted more reigning monarchs - Kings, Queens, Presidents, Sultans, Popes - than any other painter in history. Not to mention an incredible list of movie stars and celebrities - Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, Liz Taylor - and many other fascinating people, though somehow the world does not yet know his name. He's been declared the greatest portrait painter by Edmund Warren Perry at The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. And is a lovely, funny, and generous man. His story has as much historical significance as artistic beauty. His knowledge, experience and perspective on art (painting in particular) is a buried treasure that will leave a hole in human history if not sorted through and shared. After suffering a debilitating stroke in 2013 RW has re-taught himself to paint and is currently, at the age of 82, doing the best work of his life. His story tells itself in such a fascinating, funny, and touching way, that it's impossible to stop watching. Through interviews with RW, his close friends, as well as many of those he's painted we learn about the extraordinary life that he's lived and the incredible lives he's touched through not only his art, but his spirit. Spanning the lobbies of hotels he couldn't afford a room in as a teenage art student looking for commissions in 1940's NYC, to the Miami heyday of the 50's, to the grand Las Vegas casinos of the 60's, to the golden age of the Lexington thoroughbred horse farms in the 70's, to the Royal Palaces of the world and everywhere in between, the one thing connecting folks like Donald Trump and Kenny Rodgers with Las Vegas gangsters of a forgotten era, to Elvis Presley, Imelda Marcos, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Princess Grace and the Sultan of Brunei, is Ralph Wolfe Cowan. Beyond the interviews, we take a look inside his studio where he paints every day, his home life, and have the wonderful opportunity to travel with him to deliver portraits, land new commissions and visit old friends, including Johnny Mathis, one of RW's oldest and dearest. Every step of the way, we are as immersed in his story as we know our audiences will be when they experience The Last Old Master.
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