The landscapes of Albert Pinkham Ryder are inhabited by myth, allegory, and parable. His abandonment of the literal transcription of nature in order to convey more fully his own internal emotions has made his work a touchstone for many subsequent artists, including Jackson Pollock. Ryder often worked on his paintings for years, and their surfaces are built up of layer upon layer of paint and varnish.
Born in the New England whaling village of New Bedford, Massachusetts, Ryder received little formal instruction in art until his family moved to New York City when he was in his early twenties. After a failed attempt to enter the National Academy of Design, he studied with the artist William E. Marshall (1837-1906) and later passed the entrance examination.
Although Ryder became increasingly reclusive over time, he was far from that in the 1880s and 1890s, his most productive period. He might work on a painting for as many as ten years, and thus the purchase of a Ryder painting, for even his most ardent admirers, was a difficult endeavor. To an impatient buyer he once wrote: "Have you ever seen an inch worm crawl up a leaf or a twig, and then clinging to the very end, revolve in the air, feeling for something to reach something? That's like me. I am trying to find something out there beyond the place on which I have a footing."