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Ralph Albert Blakelock
Date: 1847 - 1919
Remarks: Blakelock's father was a well-known homeopathic physician who had intended the same profession for his son. But Blakelock demonstrated an interest in painting and music, which was no doubt nurtured through the influence of his uncle, James A. Johnson, a musician and artist with whom he spent summers in Arlington, Vermont. Blakelock attended New York's public schools and went on to complete two years of a five-year program at the Free Academy of the City of New York (now CUNY). At the age of twenty, he exhibited for the first time at the National Academy of Design and became a regular contributor except for the periods from 1874 to 1878 and 1889 to 1893. In 1869, Blakelock set out on the first of two trips financed by his father and became endeared to the theme of the Indian and the primeval forest while journeying west to California and south to Mexico, Panama, Jamaica, and the West Indies. After a second trip he settled in New York City and concentrated on painting the shanties of mid-Manhattan. Blakelock married in 1875 and moved to East Orange, New Jersey, where he lived alongside his uncle and his brother George. Financial pressure eventually forced Blakelock to peddle his work in order to settle his debts. In addition, be became a member of a foursome which mass-produced signs, pastels and panels for a Newark commercial-art concern. After ten years in New Jersey, the family moved briefly to New York City before finally settling in Brooklyn, where, in 1891, Blakelock suffered his first mental collapse. Eight years later, he was permanently institutionalized except for brief interludes. In 1900 Blakelock received an honorable mention at the Paris International Exposition. Thirteen years later the National Academy of Design named him an associate, and in 1916, he was elected to full membership. The same year his painting Brook by Moonlight fetched a record price at auction. Blakelock died at a camp in the Adirondack Mountains, near Elizabethtown, New York.