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The sale made him famous, newspapers called him America's greatest artist, and thousands flocked to exhibits of his work. Yet at the time of his triumph Blakelock had spent 15 years confined in a psychiatric hospital in upstate New York and his wife and children were living in poverty.
Released from the asylum by a young philanthropist, Blakelock was about to become the victim of one of the most heartless con games of the century.
Like the best biographies, The Unknown Night brings to life a vanished world, as well. Blakelock was a mystic who as a young man wandered among the Indians out West, and on his return frequented the spiritualist circles in New York City.
Though he was regarded as a loner, he worked among the great painters of his time, artists like William Merritt Chase and George Inness. Blakelock initially painted in the Romantic style of the Hudson River School, but by the s, his brooding, hallucinogenic landscapes were considered among the most controversial, radical paintings of the era.
In the s he fell on hard times and sometimes played the piano on the vaudeville circuit to earn extra cash. He suffered his first mental break down in After a period of remission he became violent and was institutionalized in just as his reputation was beginning to soar. Interest in his work peaked in when a wave of Blakelock hysteria swept America.
Wealthy collectors bid record prices for his haunting paintings.
Blakelock was released from the asylum and seemed destined for a glorious and comfortable end. Instead, fed upon by opportunistic dealers and forgers, Blakelock became entangled in a web of deceit spun by the very woman who was supposed to be his savior.
It was Blakelock's second record in three years. Newspaper reporters converged on the painter and art pundits tripped over each other in doling out praise for his mysterious nocturnal landscapes.
Few American artists deserve a higher niche in the Temple of Fame, drooled the pioneering art dealer, William Macbeth. Some were calling Blakelock the greatest American landscape painter ever. At the time, Blakelock was penniless, a resident of an asylum in Middletown, New York.
His wife, Cora Bailey Blakelock was living in poverty with their youngest children in a small house in the Catskills.
Blakelock may well have remained locked away if it had not been for the efforts of Mrs. Van Rensselaer Adams, a year-old vamp with a shady past.
Adams passed herself off as a philanthropist, rescued Blakelock from the asylum, and brought him to New York City to generate public sympathy for the artist and his family.
She had arranged a large show of his paintings at the Reinhardt Gallery on Fifth Avenue. It was a huge success attracting all the major critics and large crowds throughout its run over seven months.
Blakelock, all dressed up for the Gallery opening, cut a dashing figure. His wife, though, was nowhere to be seenReading Posts: These are posts about the different ways right-brained children learn to read versus left-brained children. Right-brained children typically learn to read .
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