Ralph Albert Blakelock (American, 1847-1919) oil on wood panel, moonlit landscape, with heavily forested foreground and moon rising against a cloudy sky; the moon is reflected in the ground or possibly a pool below. Signed R.A. Blakelock lower right in red. Rococo style whitewashed giltwood carved frame. Authenticated by Norman A. Geske of the Nebraska Blakelock Inventory in 1976. Label verso for University of Nebraska Blakelock Inventory No. 909 (full record number is NBI-909-II). Additional label with handwritten inscription "Tennessee Fine Arts Center Nashville Tenn." 5 3/8" x 7 3/4" sight, 12" x 15" framed. Biography (courtesy Askart and Michael Zellman, 300 Years of American Art): Ralph Albert Blakelock studied briefly at Cooper Union, and at the Free Academy of the City of New York. In 1867, he first exhibited at the National Academy of Design. Primarily self taught, he declined his wealthy father's offer to pay for more extensive art schooling, and in 1869, embarked on a horseback tour of the West that lasted several years. He lived with Plains Indians, painting pictures of their villages, and traveled and painted through the Rockies and the Sierra Nevadas and in San Francisco and Mexico. His western paintings were in the Hudson River style, although they were rough and more painterly. Returning to New York, he developed what became his signature expression: quiet, moody, nocturnal scenes accented with bright colors depicting light, and trees silhouetted against the sky. He had a labor-intensive technique, which was building up of multi layers of thick paint, scraping some away, and "adding more to build a complex tonality". (Zellman 420). In 1899, Blakelock had a mental breakdown. He spent the final two decades of his life in a mental institution in New York. It was only in the final few years before his death that collectors began paying substantial sums of money for his work. Provenance: The living estate of Dr. and Mrs. Benjamin H. Caldwell, Nashville, TN, exhibited, Tennessee Fine Arts Center at Cheekwood circa 1976. CONDITION: Painting: Drying cracks resulting in "alligatored" appearance to paint, 1/4" area of abrasion along perimeter of left edge. Frame: Losses to two corners, some small cracks, two 1/2" losses to inner edge molding, scattered small surface layer losses.
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