While Blakelock’s name became synonymous with the mystical moonlit scenes that dominated the latter part of his career, his early landscapes generally aligned with the traditional Hudson River School of the 1860s or the progressive American Barbizon style of the 1870s, and sometimes bridged both movements. In time, he also began exploring Tonalism, albeit in his own way by playing with surface texture, merging and layering colors, and carefully delineating the leaves and branches of trees, thereby bringing a vibrancy to his paintings and establishing his unique place among American painters. Landscape with Shepherd falls into this transitional period, with the artist taking on a decidedly Barbizon-like pastoral theme and rendering it with a sense of atmosphere espoused by the Tonalists.
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The landscape is thoroughly Blakelock, from the elegant trees anchoring both sides of the composition to the hazy, blue-tinged sky reflected in the still waters, yet as pointed out by Blakelock authority Norman Geske, the subject is remarkable for its rarity: “The painting is a beautiful and unusual example of the artist’s work. I do not think I have seen this subject before, although there are a fair number of paintings of hunters and fishermen in a landscape. In this instance we have a particularly fine demonstration of Blakelock’s highly personal skill in the depiction of arboreal forms. In addition, the color of the painting is especially characteristic – a subtle, gray-green tonality which is found in a considerable number of the works which precede the typically dark paintings of his maturity.”
Note: This painting is included within the Nebraska Blakelock Inventorycompiled by Norman Geske as NBI-1401, category II (a photocopy of Mr. Geske’s 1989 letter, with addressee left out, is mounted to the painting’s backing)
 Category II encompasses paintings with incomplete provenance which can be accepted as Blakelock's work.
 Letter from Norman Geske to previous owner of the painting, sated November 20, 1989
Private collection, Ridgewood, New Jersey
With Herbert Roman, Inc., New York, New York
To private collection, Palo Alto, California, May 1990 to present
1). Salander-O’Reilly Galleries, Inc., New York, New York, with painting description
2). Herbert Roman, Inc., New York, New York, with painting description
3). Adamson-Duvannes Galleries, Los Angeles, California, with painting description
4). J. N. Bartfield Galleries, New York, New York, with painting description
5). Questroyal Fine Art, LLC, New York, New York, with painting description
6). Questroyal Fine Art, LLC, New York, New York / Ralph Albert Blakelock: The Great Mad Genius Returns / November 11 – December 10, 2016 / The greatest Blakelock exhibition and sale in history
7). University of Nebraska / Blakelock Inventory / No. 1401
Ralph Albert Blakelock: The Great Mad Genius Returns, Questroyal Fine Art, LLC, New York, New York, November 11 – December 10, 2016