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Ralph Albert Blakelock (American, 1847-1919)


Also known as:  Blakelock, Ralph; Blakelock, Ralph A.

Birth Place: New York state (United States)

The son of a New York doctor, Blakelock attended the Free Academy of New York where he studied music and fine art. He left after only one year to paint landscapes and traveled west, sketching various themes throughout Mexico, Panama, and eventually the West Indies. There are no clear records of Blakelock's life or travels, but he returned to New York around 1876. Having adopted the radically new Impressionist style, Blakelock was so far ahead of public taste that he was unable to sell any of his work. He, his wife, and their nine children lived in abject poverty as he desperately tried to make a living selling his art. He was eventually committed to a mental institution after a long decline into mental illness and delusion. It was not until his downward spiral that Blakelock garnered recognition for his extraordinary paintings. By 1913, he had become one of the most famous artists in America. That same year one of his works sold for $13,900, which was the most ever paid for a living artist's work in America at the time.

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