Born in East Orange, New Jersey, Randall Davey became an influential figure in early 20th century art, including the art community of Santa Fe. He was a painter of portraits, still life, nude figures, and the horse-racing genre - especially scenes of polo matches.
Davey studied architecture at Cornell University from 1905 to 1907, then left for New York City to attend Robert Henri's School of Painting and the Art Students League.
In 1913, Davey was one of the exhibitors at the landmark Armory Show where modern art was introduced on a large scale to the American public.
Davey married Florence Nicks Sittenham of New York on May 19, 1911. That summer Davey painted with Henri and Bellows on Monhegan Island, Maine. Soon after he was appointed assistant instructor in Henri's summer painting classes in Spain. In 1913, Randall and Florence had their first son, William. They divorced in 1930, and he was married to Isabel Holt in 1932.
Davey and fellow painter/friend John Sloan were both students of Robert Henri, who had encouraged them to visit New Mexico. They and their wives headed West from New York City for an extended trip in 1919. They intended to camp but spent most nights in hotels and said that the hardest part of the trip was "getting their wives out of the hotel in the morning." Upon arriving, the travelers fell in love with the surroundings, and the Daveys decided to settle in Santa Fe where they purchased an old mill outside of town and converted it into a studio.
Unlike many artists of his time in the West, Davey did not make a practice of painting Native Americans. A vast majority of his subjects were nudes, which he rendered in a bold, brightly colored, Post-Impressionistic style. A lover of horses and horse racing, Davey often used horses as subjects in his works and not always from the spectator's viewpoint. His goal in these paintings was to capture the "nervous excitement and intensity" of the racetrack experience.
During his career, Davey was commissioned to paint several murals, some of which are to be found in the Will Rogers Memorial Shrine in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Davey received many awards, including: second place in the Julius Hallgarten Prize from the National Academy of Design for Young Woman in Brown, and Honorable Mention from Panama Pacific Exposition, for Lighthouse Keeper. In 1938 he was awarded the National Academician and Thomas B. Clarke American Figure Composition Prize, National Academy of Design, for Goose Hunters.
Randall Davey was a member of the National Academy of Design, National Association of Mural Painters, National Association of Portrait Painters, Board of Directors of Independent Artists, Taos Society of Artists, New Mexico Painters, and the Painter-Gravers Society.
Randall Davies' work may be found in the Art Institute of Chicago; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Cleveland Museum of Art; Delaware Art Institute, Wilmington; Detroit Institute of Arts; Kansas City Art Institute and School of Design, Missouri; Montclair Art Museum, New Jersey; Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe; Nelson Gallery of Art, Atkins Museum of Fine Arts, Kansas City, Missouri; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City; and the Will Rogers Memorial Shrine, Colorado Springs.