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.
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Loan Exhibition of the Works of Albert P. Ryder (11 March - 14 April 1918), cat. no. 48, pl. 48.
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1918 - 1924).
New York, Anderson Galleries, American Art from the Collections of Members of the Associated Dealers in American Painting (8 - 26 February 1927).
Cleveland, Ohio, Cleveland Museum of Art, Memorial Exhibition of Paintings by Thomas Eakins, Albert P. Ryder, and J. Alden Weir (1928).
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Sixth Loan Exhibition: Winslow Homer, Albert P. Ryder, Thomas Eakins (May 1930), no. 61, p. 61.
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Taste of Today in Masterpieces of Painting Before 1900 (10 July - 2 October 1932).
Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, The Century of Progress Exhibition (1 June - 1 November 1933), no. 475.
Cleveland, Ohio, Cleveland Museum of Art, 20th Anniversary Exhibition (26 June - 4 October1936), no. 366, pl. LXXVI.
Cleveland, Ohio, Cleveland Museum of Art, Exhibition of American Painting from 1860 until Today (23 June - 4 October 1937), no. 164, pl. V.
Paris, Musée du Jeu de Paume, Trois Siècles d'Art aux États-Unis (May - July 1938), no. 144.
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Art in Our Time: The Tenth Anniversary Exhibition of The Museum of Modern Art (April - October 1939), cat. no. 26, pl. 26.
New York, M. Knoedler & Co., Two American Romantics of the Nineteenth Century: Robert Loftin Newman 1827-1912, Albert Pinkham Ryder 1847 - 1917 (13 November - 2 December 1939), no. 9.
Hartford, Connecticut, Wadsworth Atheneum, Night Scenes (15 February - 7 March 1940), no. 56.
Pittsburgh, Carnegie Institute, Survey of American Painting (24 October - 15 December 1940), cat. no. 205 (not ill.)
London, The Tate Gallery, American Painting: from the Eighteenth Century to the Present Day (Summer 1946), cat. no. 178.
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Ryder Centenary Exhibition (18 October - 30 November 1947), no. 31, ill. p. 34.
Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Diamond Jubilee Exhibition: Masterpieces of American Painting (4 November 1950 - 11 February 51); no. 62.
New York, National Academy of Design, The American Tradition Exhibition of Paintings (3 December - 16 December1951), no. 120, ill. p. 44.
Buffalo, New York, Albright Art Gallery, Expressionism in American Painting (10 May - 29 June 1952), no. 4, ill. p. 13.
Frankfurt, Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Hundert Jahre Amerikanische Malerei 1800-1900, An Exhibition Circulated by the American Federation of Arts (14 March - 3 May 1953); traveled to München, Bayerische Staatsgemaldesammlungen (15 May - 28 June 1953); traveled to Hamburg, Kunstalle (18 July - 30 August 1953), cat. no. 78, p. 34, ill. p. 21.
Rome, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, Mostra di Pittura Americana del XIX Secolo (19 January - 7 February 1954), cat. no. 53, pl. 19.
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, American Painting in the Nineteenth Century (1954), cat. no. 53.
Washington, D. C., The Corcoran Gallery, The American Muse (1959), cat. no. 63.
New York, Whitney Museum of Modern Art, Art of the United States: 1670 -1966 (28 September - 27 November 1966), cat. no. 242.
Buffalo, New York, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Heritage and Horizon: American Painting 1776 - 1976 (6 March - 11 April 1976), cat. no. 26; traveled to Detroit, Detroit Institute of Arts (5 May - 13 June 1976); traveled to Toledo, Toledo Museum of Art (4 July - 15 August 1976); traveled to Cleveland, Cleveland Museum of Art (8 September - 10 October 1976).
Kansas City, Missouri, William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art, Kaleidoscope of American Painting, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries (2 December 1977 - 22 January 1978), no. 37, ill. p. 34.
Washington, D.C., National Museum of American Art, The Art of Albert Pinkham Ryder (6 April - 29 July 1990); traveled to Brooklyn, Brooklyn Museum of Art (14 September 1990 - 8 January 1991); exhibition catalog published for the NMAA
|c. 1896-1906||Albert Pinkham Ryder [1847-1914], New York, NY, sold to Louis Lehmeier|
|1906-by 1913||Louis Lehmeier, returned to the artist1|
|After 1906-by 1913||Albert Pinkham Ryder, probably sold to Albert T. Sanden|
|By 1913-1924||Albert T. Sanden, New York, NY2|
|1924||(Ferargil Galleries, New York, NY, sold to the Cleveland Museum of Art)3|
|1928-||The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio|
1It is unclear why Lehmeier, an acquaintance of Ryder, returned the painting to the artist.
2Sanden, one of Ryder's closest friends, owned 11 paintings by the artist, most of which he purchased directly from the artist. Since Lehmeier returned this painting to Ryder, it is probable that this painting was one of them.
3Thomas H. Russell of Ferargil Galleries wrote to Margaret Evans of the Butler Institute of American Art that they had just acquired a group of Ryder paintings, including "The Race Track," known as the "Sanden pictures."
Henry S. Francis, letter to Lloyd Goodrich, July 24, 1947, in CMA curatorial file.
Sophie G. Lehmaier, letter, June 26, 1947, Goodrich, Lloyd and Edith Havens Papers Relating to Albert Pinkham Ryder, #F32, Special Collections, University of Delaware Library.
Sophie G. Lehmaier, letter to Henry S. Francis, July 23, 1947, in CMA curatorial file.
The Art Digest (Feb. 1, 1928):2.
Thomas H. Russell, letter to “sirs,” Feb. 5, 1924, in CMA curatorial file.
Thomas H. Russell, letter to Margaret Evans, Feb. 5, 1924, in CMA curatorial file.
Thomas H. Russell, letter to William Milliken, Feb. 13, 1924, in CMA curatorial file.
Zachary Ross, “Linked by Nervousness: Albert Pinkham Ryder and Dr. Albert T. Sanden,” American Art 17.2 (Summer 2003): 86-96.