Albert Pinkham Ryder (American, 1847-1917)
oil on canvas, Framed - h:84.50 w:102.00 d:6.50 cm (h:33 1/4 w:40 1/8 d:2 1/2 inches)
Unframed - h:70.50 w:90.00 cm (h:27 3/4 w:35 3/8 inches). Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1928.8
Ryder’s subject was inspired by a horse race that took place in New York during 1888. One of the artist’s friends wagered $500 on the race and then committed suicide after the horse lost. Medieval symbolism infuses the composition: death appears as a skeleton on horseback holding a scythe with which he cuts down the living, while a snake-a sign of temptation and evil-slithers in the foreground. An intense man, Ryder worked on the painting for several years and was deeply reluctant to part with it.