Ripley was born in Wakefield, Massachusetts in 1896, and nearly followed in his father's footsteps as a musician. As a young child, he became inspired by the surrounding woods and pastures, and began sketching and painting what he saw. Instead of pursuing a career in music Ripley enrolled in the Fenway School of Illustration, and studied there until he joined the army at the start of World War I. Upon his return from the war he entered the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where he studied figurative and portrait painting under Frank Benson and Philip Hale.
In 1924, Ripley was awarded a Paige Traveling Fellowship, a fully funded scholarship which allowed him to travel for two years throughout France, Holland, and North Africa. On this trip, he expanded his horizons by experimenting with watercolors and plein-air landscape painting as well as the new subjects of landscape and country life. His enthusiasm for the new medium was reflected in the freshness of his colors and spontaneity of his brushwork.
In 1939, Ripley received a large commission from the federal government for a mural painting in the Lexington Post Office. This began a new chapter in the artist’s life, and soon afterward the Winchester Public Library hired him to complete a mural depicting the life of Paul Revere. Following this, the Paul Revere Insurance Company in Worchester, Massachusetts commissioned Ripley to complete a series of 14 murals depicting the historical events of Paul Revere’s life.
Ripley settled in Lexington, Massachusetts where he lived out the remainder of his life. Although he frequently hunted in the woods and fields of Eastern Massachusetts, he also was an ardent conservationist and worked to preserve wilderness areas and endangered species.
Allied Artists of America
American Artists' Professional League
American Watercolor Society
Boston Watercolor Society
Guild of Boston Artists
National Academy of Design
National Society of Mural Painters
Art Institute of Chicago
High Museum of Art, Atlanta
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Columbia Museum of Art
Boston Public Library
Davenport Municipal Art Gallery
Beaverbrook Art Gallery
Art Institute of Chicago, 1926 (Logan Prize for watercolor), 1927-32, 1934-45 (prize and medal)
Guild Boston Artists, 1926 (solo: foreign scene paintings), 1930 (sporting paintings), 1942, 1972
(Commemorative), 1974 (Boston Paintings), 1975 (Foreign Scene Paintings), 1978
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Annual, 1928, 1930
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, 1936-37, 1939, 1945
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