Ralph Fanning was born in Riverhead, Long Island in New York on November 29, 1889. He earned an undergraduate degree in Architecture from Cornell University in 1912, followed by two Masters’ degrees from the University of Illinois in History and Architecture in 1917 and 1921, respectively.
Fanning studied under Alice Schille, and was an active painter in Columbus during the time of Schille, James and Edna Hopkins, and Robert Chadeayne. Fanning was a lecturer at The Ohio State University from 1921-1956, and painted actively during these years. He returned to Riverhead, Long Island and died there in March of 1971.