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The Race Track (Death on a Pale Horse)

The Race Track (Death on a Pale Horse)

c. 1896-1908

Albert Pinkham Ryder

(American, 1847-1917)

Oil on canvas

Framed: 84.5 x 102 x 6.5 cm (33 1/4 x 40 3/16 x 2 9/16 in.); Unframed: 70.5 x 90 cm (27 3/4 x 35 7/16 in.)

Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1928.8

Description

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.

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