The Race Track (Death on a Pale Horse)

c. 1896–1908
(American, 1847–1917)
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.)
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Did You Know?

Counterclockwise horse racing in the United States was not standardized until the 1920s.


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 died by 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.
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)
America, 19th century


Inspiration from Tragedy

Symbolism on the Race Track

The Artist, Albert Pinkham Ryder

Ryder's Experiments with Paint

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