Paradox Lake, signed by Joseph Ropes

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Oil on canvas landscape of Paradox Lake, New York, signed by Joseph Ropes.

Why is it special?

Paradox Lake, in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains, gets its name from a unique occurrence which happens every spring. Melting snow in the eastern Adirondack Mountains flows into Schroon River. Paradox Lake’s outlet also flows into Schroon River, but due to the sudden increase in water, the outflow is forced back, causing it to flow in reverse. The word paradox, so the locals claim, means “water running backward” in Indian. Paradox Lake is an 896-acre lake, almost 5 miles long, and one mile wide.

Born into a prominent Salem, Massachusetts family, Joseph Ropes was known as a topographical draughtsman of the small, bustling town of Hartford,
> > Connecticut. Ropes also worked as a miniaturist, a landscapist, and a teacher of art. He used crayon as well as the more conventional techniques.

He did not become an artist until he was in his mid-thirties, and he studied at the National Academy of Design in the 1840s. After further study with John R. Smith in New York, Ropes settled in Hartford, Connecticut, where he maintained a studio from 1851 and 1865 and did drawings, prints, and paintings.

Ropes was also active as a teacher and was the author of several artist’s manuals, published during his residence in Hartford. The Connecticut Historical Society has four drawings by Ropes, and their Graphics Collection includes at least one lithograph drawn on the stone by him and published by E. C. Kellogg. Additional paintings by Ropes are in the Society’s museum collection.

A peripatetic man, he moved about, starting in New York City, settling in Hartford, Connecticut, for fourteen years, then traveling abroad for eleven years, returning in 1876 to Philadelphia, and finally going back to New York City for his final years.