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after Ralph Albert Blakelock
1847 - 1919

Ralph Blakelock, Canoe in Moonllight
Canoe in Moonlight
after Ralph Blakelock, Encampment

It is said that there exist many more forgeries than genuine Blakelock paintings.

The "moonlight" painting is entered in the Nebraska Blakelock Inventory as NBI-1971, Category IV, which means it cannot be considered the work of the artist. For the information of researchers, the reasons are: crude superficiality of the brushwork, excessive emphasis on the black and blue palette, no sense of structure within the tree forms, and foliage painted on top of the sky color. Additionally, the signature is stated to be conspicuously wrong.

The "encampment" painting is NBI-972, also Category IV. The reasons are: handling is crude and superficial, discrepancies of scale, signature careless and illegible.

Ralph Blakelock is known for misty nocturnal scenes, moonlit landscapes with large oaks, and Indian encampments. He is of the late Hudson River School, but also painted the American West. His father was a New York doctor, but Ralph's love of music and art drew him away from the study of medicine. His early work included unglamorous scenes of New York City shanties and Hudson River style works painted in the Adirondacks and the White Mountains.

Primarily, he was self taught. He declined his father's offer to pay for extensive art schooling. Instead, at the age of 22, he took a three year horseback tour of the American west. He lived with Indians, painted pictures of their villages, and focused his attention on the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada. Briefly he painted some city scenes in San Francisco and Oakland before heading south to Mexico.

After his return to New York, his work became quiet and moody, with many nocturnal scenes depicting light and silhouetted trees.

Although it is believed his work was introspective reflections of his travels, it didn't appeal to the public's appetite for the uplifting style of Hudson River painting. His work was overlooked, and some dealers took advantage of Ralph Blakelock's need for money to support his large family. Tragically, his mental health declined and he suffered a mental breakdown in 1899. His last twenty years of life were in an asylum in Middleton, New York. By the time of his death, his paintings were bringing high prices, as high as $20,000 in 1919. Forgers even changed the signature of his daughter Marian's paintings to Ralphs signature to cash in on his popularity.

Of Blakelock's career, Norman Geske wrote: "Considered in the context of American landscape painting in the second half of the nineteenth century, Ralph Albert Blakelock can be seen first as a late exponent of the Hudson River School, second as a highly personal contributor to the painting of the American West, and third and most important, as part of the romantic, visionary, and modern tendencies that marked the turn of the century."

Source: Askart