Albert Pinkham Ryder (1847-1917)
A Pastoral Study, 1897
Oil on canvas mounted on fiberboard
24 x 29 3/8 in. (61 x 74.2 cm)
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., Gift of John Gellatly, 1929.6.104

The subject
Ryder painted scenes of farm animals and rolling, bucolic landscapes throughout his career. A Pastoral Study is one of the latest of this genre of work, but one of his most subtle and ambitious.

A long tradition
Pastoral landscape painting has a long Western art historical precedent, and was immensely popular among artists of the Barbizon School in France in the mid-nineteenth century. As a young artist trained at conservative institutions such as the National Academy of Design and the Musée des Beaux Arts, Ryder would have studied earlier Barbizon works, and would also have been aware of the Elizabethan pastoral studies popular in England in the decades before he began painting. [1]

At the Armory Show
Long ignored by the public, Ryder was an important “discovery” of the Armory Show and was well represented by ten paintings. A Pastoral Study was lent by the collector John Gellatly, who also lent American Impressionist paintings by Theodore Robinson and John Henry Twachtman. Ryder’s work was hung in the historical survey of American art that the organizers conceived to demonstrate the roots of contemporary art.

[1] Dorinda Evans, “Albert Pinkham Ryder’s Use of Visual Sources,” Winterthur Portfolio 21 (Spring 1986), 24.

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