THE CREATIVE INTERESTS OF ALBERT PINKHAM RYDER

by Paul Henrickson, © 1961 • • • • • • • • • • • • The purpose of this paper is to survey the work of Albert Pinkham Ryder in an effort to indicate the possible creative raison d’etre of his work. I have gone about this matter by establishing hi subject matters interests under general categories. These will appear in table form. The question of Ryder’s drawing ability has interested critics for some time and has served to complicate the matter of establishing his worth as an artist. In one section of this paper we attempt to pinpoint the instances of both “god” and “poor” drawing. A cursory examination of Ryder’s work reveals an interest I literary sources, such as the plays of Shakespeare and the operas of Wagner. This could, of course, be guessed after a glance at his titles such as The Tempest and The Flying Dutchman. However, these are not the only instances of influence which, after closer examination become apparent. We shall discuss the literary sources both from the point of view of Ryder’s deviations from them and his adherence to the theme of these sources.

Ryder: The Tempest

Other pertinent influences will be discussed. These see to be based in his aesthetic response to other works of art either specific archetypes or types that have entered the vocabulary of the graphic arts and have long since become immediately recognizable deices or symbols. Of greater interest, perhaps, is what the artist Ryder really was like as a creative being. Even after considerable investigation this can only be glimpsed and approximately ascertained. It is not intended that this paper should prove anything. When, in the course of the writing it mat appear that some points of been emphasized it is done so only to clarify a meaning and not to establish an opinion as fact.

SUBJECT MATTER INTEREST As Lloyd Goodrich tells us it is extremely difficult to assign any of Ryder’s paintings to a specific date, for not only did he frequently not date o sign them, he often painted them or as long as fifteen or twenty years, even often after they had been sold. Most of the paintings we will be considering fall into the twenty or twenty-five year period between the 1880’s and 1900 after which Ryder produced little. The subject matter of his work falls generally into three categories, pastoral landscapes, seascapes, and paintings which derive their subject matter from literary sources. There are examples of portraits (his self portrait and The Lone Scout) which we are not considering because they do not form a large enough group from which to draw conclusions.

Ryder.The Lone Scout, 1880

There are approximately 24 paintings which are included in the first group, i.e., the pastoral landscape group, approximately twenty-three works in the literary groups which includes mythological and Biblical subjects, and surprisingly, for this is the category by which he is best known, only fifteen works under the general heading of “seascape”. These do not represent all of Ryder’s works, but we assume them to be representative of the range of subject matter interest. Many of them , for example Lord Ullin’s Daughter could quite easily be classified as a seascape, and one such as Gay Head could be considered either a landscape or a seascape. In both cases we have placed them in that category for which it seems best fitted as seemed upon first view. We do not mean to suggest that these categories are mutually exclusive. The table of categories follows:

LANDSCAPES The Curfew Hour (1882) The Sheep Fold (1870’s) Mending the Harness (?) Evening Glow (?) Grazing Horse (?) Summer’s Pasture (?) The Wood Road (?) Gay Head(?) The Pasture (?) The Windmill (?) Sunset Hour (?) The Lone Horseman(?) The Pond (?) The White Horse(?) A Country Girl (?) Pastoral Study(?) In the Stable(?) The Dead Bird (?) Hunter’s Rest (?) By the Tomb of the Prophet (after 1882) Oriental Camp (1882) A Stag Drinking(?) Weir’s Orchard(?)

LITERARY

SEASCAPES

Spring (1880?) The Lovers’ Boat (1881) Dancing Dryads(1881) Toilers of the Sea(1884) Pegasus (1883-87) Moonlight Marine (?) The Lovers (?) Homeward Bound(1894 Resurrection With Sloping Mast (?) Christ Appearing to Moonlight on Sea(?) Mary (sold 1885) Temple of the Mind Moonrise Marine (?) (sold 1885) Diana (?) Moonlight (?) The Flying Dutchman Moonlit Cove(?) (exhibited 1890) Perrette (by 1890) Under a Cloud(?) Joan of Arc(sold 1889) Shore Scene Story of the Cross Marine(?) (before 1890) Desdemona (1896) The Canal (?) Siegfried and the Rhine Maidens (b. 1891) Constance (?) The Tempest(?) The Race Track(b.1895) Macbeth and the Witches (1895-1915) The Lorelei (?) Jonah (1885-90) The Forest of Arden (1897) King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid (c.1990)

It would be possible to tell from some of these titled that they could be listed in at least two of the categories, but, for the sake of a working structure this is what was decided to work with. THE QUESTION OF RYDER’S DRAWING A superficial view of an array of Ryder’s paintings immediately presents us with a difficult problem in analysis for it becomes apparent that the quality of his drawing, and by drawing we have in mind the adequate anatomical representation of a human or animal figure varies considerably. It is not impossible for us to believe that we see evidences of Renaissance, Classical, Oriental and impressionistic drawing (the impressionistic movement was certainly underway during the period under consideration. Claude Monet lived between 1840-1926).

In some instances it is possible to assign certain figure styles in Ryder’s paintings with certain figure styles in paintings he might have seen on his trip through Europe. In Mending the Harness, for example, the figure of the man bending over his work is not at all unlike the figure of the man in Millet’s (1814-1875) The Man With The Hoe except that the Ryder figure is very much more obscure, perhaps reflecting his concern for draughtsmanship.

Jean-Francois Millet: Man with a Hoe

In Ryder’s Siegfried and the Rhine Maidens the figure of the mounted Siegfried is not unlike that Arabian figure in Delacroix’s The Lion Hunt of 1861 except that, one again, much of the figure is obscured for whatever reasons we might surmise. In the Ryder painting, the action is shifted from the people and the animals to the stormily active sky and silhouettes of trees. The romance, however, depicted in both canvases is much the same and it may be this that should inform us about the nature of Ryder’s creative impulses. We might say that the difference between Delacroix and Ryder in regard to romance is that while Delacroix exercised his ability in draughtsmanship to illustrate “romance” Ryder, because he lacked this ability was forced to translate this fascination with “romance” into more non-objective shapes and relationships between shapes. Now, having said this, we might ask, in the light of this information which of the two artists was the more creative? The one who had been successfully trained to do things “properly” or the one who had to find other ways of achieving his goals?

If we take a look at Delaceoix’s oild sketch for this painting we might learn more abour the creative process.

Delacroix: Oil sketch for “The Lion Hunt”

There have, of course been many equestrian figures such as this in both sculpture and painting , by which Ryder may have been influenced. It is not my intention, at this point, to attribute specific influences, but merely, by mention of these few examples, to indicate that Ryder apparently had no style of drawing to which he held or one that was his own. One could, by way of further emphasis refer to the paintings on gilded leather of A Stag Drinking and A Stag with Two Does and urge the reader to recall those paintings of animals on Persian, or perhaps Indian work where a style, the result, obviously, of artistic discipline, or representation orders the anatomy of a figure to conform to an artistic conception, and to ask , whether or not, there is no such evidence in the figures of like animals by Ryder. Among the paintings we are considering there are no other examples of this kind of artistic ordering. These examples do not stand out as suggestions of a diversity of styles. These are not exceptions to a rule, for, as I shall attempt to point out, Ryder has no rule for drawing as we have defined it above. Rather he seems to depend upon other sources for a discipline of this type.

Ryder: Siegfried and the Rhine Maidens

In Ryder’s Grazing Horsewe do find the animal rendered anatomically possible. The drawing is somewhat pedestrian, but there are none of the outstanding errors of draughtsmanship which we can see in the horse in Mending the Harnessand TheWhite Horse. In both instances the error in drawing can readily be observed in the foreshortening of the neck. In A Country Girlthe drawing is, quite frankly, an abomination. She has no bonesno weight, but is merely an apparition. Also in this painting we noticea hint of other discrepanciesin treatment especially the sophisticated treatment of the tree o the right compared with the representation of the human being which is almost entirely innocent of a knowledge of anatomy. Roger Fry, that champion of the under dog, described Ryder’s drawing as design. This has yet to be proved, and before proved the label “design” has to be defined. It would be impossible for us to accept the drawing in A Country Girl as possibly the work of the same man who painted Roadside Meeting, but it would take considerably more effort, or blindness, to think of the drawing as we find it in Siegfried and the Rhine Maidens as being the true expression of the work of the same man.

Theis vague enough in treatment for us to accept the possibility that the same inept hand had executed the work. The drawing inon the other hand, is so startling by contrast that it is obviously more difficult to understand in context , unless we consider other factors.I believe that we have three choices. The first of these is that the drawing in the Siegfried is a flukethat Ryder had had a bad day when he paintedor that he had received stylistic influence from another quarter. If were the only example of “good”drawing the first choice might be possible for us to accept. It is, however, not the only example. We have adceptable anatomy in the horse and rider in the painting, provides us with a second example of acceptable anatomy with the possible exception of the forshortned thigh in he seated figure to

the left. Because it is lightly handled it does not offend us with glaring errors in anatomy which might be more in evidence were the figures highly detailed and rendered more realistically. It appears that Ryder was incapable of adjusting the anatomy to the concepts of perspective. This tens to flatten a painting. The significance of this will be discussed in the section on Compositional devices. In The Dead Bird we have an excellent example of well-realized form.

Ryder: Dead Bird

We do not suggest, as we did in the case of Siegfried and the Rhine Maidens, that this too might be an influence from an outside source. There may, of course, be one, but no example comes to mind and, for the time being, we are content to imagine that the birds basic conical shape and the straight on view had something to do with his success. There is yet another suggestion to be put forward, and that is, the possibility that, due to the personality deficiencies which are discussed whenever Ryder’s name is mentioned, it might have been possible for him to scientifically evaluate and record (in this case somewhat impressionistically) the body of a dead bird, whereas, in those other circumstances, when confronted with a more complex form, a human body or a horse, he experienced a notable lack of interest due to, perhaps, to the absence of intellectual resources regarding anatomy with its attendant frustration of his creative goals. Later, it may have been that he consciously felt the lack of experience from working with a live model. As a result, he resorted to the nearest “dead” models of live human beings in the environment in which he cared to use them, namely, the human figure as represented in the paintings by others. The well-known fact that he labored his paintings to the point that he did not improve them artistically and quite frequently harmed them physically by applying to great a load of paint supports the theory that he was not well adjusted. Of course, it might be added, at this point, that any human being who exhibits an interest level beyond the most immediately practical, in anything at all, is giving evidence of a

lack of adjustment. The same might also be said about the absence of interest as it might be expressed by avoidance behaviors. The intense interest in counting, counting anything at all, shown by the composer Anton Bruchner might be a case in point. I is characteristic of people who are basically insecure that this insecurity is expressed through compulsions. There have been reports that Ryder was insecure, that he felt ill at ease in the company of others and that he was most frequently silent. When Ryder painted so that his canvases suffered this activity must be considered nonintegrative. I shall not go further into Ryder’s alleged insecurities because I lack the knowledge to do so. I feel, however, that there may be much in Ryder’s painting which might be explained and much which would contribute to such a study. I believe it in order, however, to assume that he was a “character” to the extent that at times he dressed inappropriately, cared little for the amenities of civilized life and was indifferent to the cleanliness of his surroundings. He was not ignorant of the differences between himself and others for he mentioned once to Marsden Hartley that the character of his living conditions became visible to him only when others were there to see it. Fro this, it is not too great a jump considering the other contemporary reports we have about him, that he may have found approaching a model too unsettling an experience to undergo and the next best thing, other people’s paintings, he considered his only recourse. The Resurrection in The Phillips Collection in Washington offers us another bit of evidence along this line. We have here the figure of Christ and the figure, I presume, of Mary. Hey are standing, or keeling, as the case may be on the same ground level, but just a fraction off on the horizontal perspective plane, that is, Mary is, approximately twelve inches beyond (as it appears) Christ in depth. Upon investigation we notice that although Christ’s hand I raised in benediction, his gaze is not directed toward Mary. One would assume that, under these conditions, Christ would be looking directly toward Mary. We cannot bring the vagueness of the features of the face to bear on this argument, but the position of the head indicates, unless Christ is looking askance at Mary, that he is not looking directly at her. Mary, too, seems to be looking past Christ (see diagram). This type of pictorial error could have been avoided had Ryder possessed the knowledge of anatomy required to give the impression of a lightly turned of a slightly turned head. I the examples already quoted we have noticed that he could not foreshorten effectively and we have already suggested that he used the work of other artists as a source for many of his figures. This conclusion can, I believe, Be supported by other evidence readily available in the picture itself. Christ is dressed in traditional Hebrew-prophet garb. Mary is dressed in a costume from another period. I cannot say whether it is from the eighteen or the nineteenth century, in any event, it makes little difference for the point I should like to make. It is a century, at any rate, considerably after the time of Christ.

It is not unusual to find similar anachronistic combinations in the works of the Italians before, during and after the Renaissance and in those instances we also find them in combination with borrowings from many sources. If we return to the Christ figure, we sense a contradiction in the handling of the flesh of the body and the rather elaborate system of folds (after a model?) of the garment which he wears. The garment seems to be modeled with a concern for its own anatomy of fold rather than for the relation a worn garment bears to the figure wearing it. If these observations are correct would it be too great an assumption to suppose that Ryder has here combined figures fro two or more sources and that in fitting these figures together the most he was able to achieve was to approximate their psychological relationship to each other? If we take the second of the three choices, that is, that Ryder was having a bad day when he painted A Country Girl, we then, must conclude that Ryder had a number of such days. Not only do we have the evidence of the work just mentioned which reveal inadequacies in draughtsmanship but there are, as well, others that can be mentioned. The Joan of Arc presents us with a ghastly caricature of a dull-witted farm girl. Her eyes bulge out, her mouth hangs open and he gives every impression of preparing to experience a seizure. Such an interpretation would be appropriate if one had a satirical turn of mind, which I doubt Ryder had. Should we assume, then, that Ryder had no intention of ridiculing the Saint? If so, we have two alternatives. The first of these being that Ryder merely painted a face, any face, with no intent to illustrate and what we see is the way it turned out. The second alternative is that he wished to reveal an expression of awe, such an expression would have been appropriate under the circumstances, and that he was, personally, so overcome by his emotional reaction to the event that he produced this grotesque grimace. The face of Joseph in The Story of the Cross possesses something of this feeling as well as does the face of he crucified Christ, who, incidentally, appears to be eavesdropping. By way of contrast the face and bust of the Virgin appear ordered and well conceived. The technique also appears smoother. Indeed, the technique of applying the paint seems to have sharp break between the upper half and the lower half of the canvas. The Virgin seems t be either Flemish or Italian, but more Flemish than Italian if one considers the tightness of the bosom. Unfortunately, I have no prototypes to offer. I do not find the second of these choices acceptable. The third, and last, of our choices turns on the question of artistic plagiarism Which to some historians and aestheticians is nothing to be disparaged. It need not be an important question if the artist borrowing uses what he borrows proficiently, that is, without directly copying it and by integrating it successfully in his own work. This Ryder does not appear to have done, for otherwise it would not have been so overwhelmingly obvious that something was amiss. I have already suggested possible sources for Ryder’s figures and in the section on Renaissance and Classical influences will mention more. For the time being, it is enough to establish, at least tentatively, that Ryder could not raw well because he did not have the training and

because he psychologically could not tolerate the presence of another human being in such intimate association with him, and that, as a result, he resorted to sources more easily available to him, namely the work of other painters. One might ask, at this point, why, if this last were true, did he not always resort to such methods when making pictures, or, perhaps, he did. I have two suggestions. The first is that he did not do so because there were not available to him the required models, and the second is that concentration in public museums is often hampered by the presence of idle curiosity seekers and museum staff. LITERARY SOURCES Of the literary sources Ryder used as inspiration for his work Goodrich mentions the following: The Haunted Palace by Edgar Allen Poe which was the inspiration for Temple of the Mind which appears in The Fall of the House of Usher. According to report, Ryder himself wrote professor John Pickart in 1907: “The theme is Poe’s “Haunted Palace”…the finer attributes of the mind are pictured by three graces who stand in the center of the picture: where their shadows from the moonlight fall toward the spectator. They are waiting for a weeping love to join them. On the left is a temple where a cloven-footed fawn dances up the steps snapping his fingers in fiendish glee at having to dethroned the erstwhile ruling graces.” The Sea, or Lord Ullin’s daughter is based on the poem “Lord Ullin’s Daughter” by Thomas Campbell. The Flying Dutchman is based on Wagner’s opera. Desdemona is based on Shakespeare’s “Othello”. Siegfried and The Rhine Maidens is based on Wagner’s “Gotterdamerung”. Cosntance is based on Chauser’s “Canterbury Tales:Man of Law’s Tale”. The Tempest is based on Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”, Act1 , Scene II. Macbeth is based on Shakespear’s “Macbeth”, Act I, Scene III, The Forest of Arden is based on Shakespeare’s “As you Like It”. King Cophetus and the Beggar Maid is based on Percy’s “Reliques of Ancient English Poetry”, Series I, Book II. Perrette is based on the “Fables of la Fontaine”, Book 7, Fable 10’ In addition to the above which have been definitely assigned to their literary sources it should be possible to add The Lorelei which show us a character from German legend who haunted a rock on the Rhine and lured sailors to their destruction by her beauty and her song. Jonah is obviously based on the Biblical account of the whale which swallowed a man and then cast him up again on dry land. The Resurrection is based on another Biblical reference. Dancing Dryads and Pegasus are also based on sources of a literary nature. For many of his paintings Ryder supplied the literary connection himself in the form of poems he wrote for his paintings. The following represent such paintings for which he wrote poems: Dancing Dryads, The Lovers’ Boat, Toilers of the Sea, Joan of Arc, Passing Song. In as many instances as possible we have supplied the literary sources of these works in an appendix at the end of this section. In some cases, notably, The Flying

Dutchman, we cannot supply the source, for Ryder had seen this opera and had returned home to start painting on the canvas, but we have in its place, substituted the description of the scene given by Milton Cross. We have failed to locate he exact scene from Otello from which Ryder may have obtain his inspiration. He may have received some stimulus from a production of the play. For other references not supplied in detail I the appendix we trust the reader is sufficiently familiar with the sources so that her will; be able to supply be recall all that will be necessary. Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”, Act I, Scene II. Takes place before the cell of Porspero, the exiled King of Mantua. Ryder has located this scene from Shakespeare’s play on an island in a storm-tossed sea. The characters, Prospero, Miranda, and Caliban make their appearance, quite like they would in the play, with the exception, of course, that Ryder has more techniques of realism to employ than would be at the disposal of a stage director. Aside from those obvious differences in medium Ryder’s interpretation of the subject sticks closelt to that of Shakespeare. In Macbeth and The Witches, Ryder has depicted in the proper gloom the three apparitions n the heath whom Macbeth and Banquo meet on their journey. The two are greeted by the witches and it is at this moment that Ryder has depicted them. Their horses rear and behave generally in a disorderly but highly dramatic manner. This painting is one of Ryder’s most dramatic works. The only item which may not have been included in the stage direction for the production might be the appearance of the castle on the hill to the right. Yjis. I presume to be Dunsinane or Inverness, but more likely Inverness since the action at this time of the play is somewhat remote from the King’s residence. Lloyd Goodrich maintains that the characters in The Forest of Arden are Rosalind and Celia and they may well be. Although a great part of the action of the play takes place in one part or another of the forest, I is entirely possible that Goodrich is correct. He does not, however, identify what seems to be a third person in the group. What is of more interest than whether Ryder has represented the proper number of characters is how he has represented the forest itself. Frederick D. Losey who has written the introduction to this edition of Shakespeare’s plays warns us that “in reading ‘As You Like It’ we should be on our guard against becoming too enamored of the forest of Arden. The glamour which commentators have thrown over this ‘desert inaccessible’ has gone far o blinding us to the deeper and more spiritual beauties of the play”. In Act II, Scene I, Duke Senior speak of his feelings toward the place “here feel we the penalty of Adam,/the season’s difference, as the ice fang, and churlish chiding and the winter’s wind, which when it bites and blows upon my body…”. In Act II, Scene V. Amiens opens the scene with: “under the greenwood tree, who loves to lie with me, And turn his merry note unto the sweet bird’s throat, come hither, come hither, Here shall we see, no enemy. But winter and rough weather”. In Act II, Scene IV, Touchstone to Rosalind: “Aye now I am in Arden, the more fool I: when I was t home, I was in better place: but travelers must be content”. In Act II, Scene VII, Orlando to Duke Senior: “that in this desert

inaccessible, Ender the shade of melancholy boughs…” From thee selections we gather such references as: inaccessible desert, melancholy shade, a fool to be here, home is a better place, winter and rough weather, the penalty of Adam, we get the distinct impression that Arden is not a pleasant place. Ryder has depicted a not unpleasant glade, with a brook, leaved trees, a golden sky. There is only one combination of elements which might be interpreted as unfriendly or unpleasant. This combination is made up of the large, dead tree which is almost branchless and which stands prominently near the center and the cloud which it pierces. In sharp contrast to the other clouds in the sky this one appears solid in a way which could make it possible for one to hold on to it. In fact, this cloud has more form than the fully leaved tree to the right of it has. This type of form building reveals a characteristic which is called haptic, that is, a concern more for the tactile qualities of an object than those qualities which can easily be readily assigned to visual appearance, however, in this case the tactile, or better still, the sense of being able to grasp an object is related to an “object” or substance that normally cannot be grasped,.. a cloud. This cloud also fails to keep its proper place in depth and seems to crowd in upon human space as opposed to remaining in the atmosphere. This could be considered threatening. The tree could also be considered threatening, but not wintry, not cold. Melancholy and rough are applicable descriptions of the tree,, but not of the landscape as a whole. The impression of melancholy is not strong enough to suggest that Ryder wished to illustrate the forest of Arden the way Shakespeare intended it should be pictured. The following description is given by Milton Cross of the opening scene of “The Flying Dutchman” (“Der Fliegende Hollander”): Act One: A rocky harbor on the Norwegian coast, with a view of the sea in the background. Daland’s ship has just anchored during a violent storm, and the sailors are busy on deck, singing as they work. Daland, who has gone ashore to look over the landscape, calls back to the Steersman that the storm drove the ship seen miles from its home port. He recognizes the locality as Sandvike. Coming back on board, Daland send the sailors to their quarters, tells the Steersman to stand watch, then retires to his cabin. Seating himself near the helm, the Steersman whiles away the time by singing a ballard about his lady love(“Mit Gewitterund Sturm”). The smashing of a wave against the side of the ship, indicated by a violent crescendo in the orchestra, interrupts his song. He looks over the side to see if any damage has been done, he finds everything safe, and resumes his singing. His voice trails off as he falls asleep. The storm rises in a sudden fury, and in the distance the Flying Dutchman appears, his blood-red sails billowing from its black masts. The ship glides along side the other vessel, and then the anchor is let go with a violent crash. Startled out of his sleep, the Steersman leaps to his feet. He looks around, hums a few bars of his song, and then sits down and dozes off again. In an eerie silence the crew of the ghost ship brings the sails down and makes everything fast.*

There are characteristics in this tale as well as I the operatic production which reflect the Sturm und Drang movement which was current in German literary productions of this time, e.g., Goethe’s “Faust”. This attitude must also have affected Ryder for it is in this painting more than in any other we are considering that we see distinct reflections of the grandeur, of a type, similar to the Hudson River School. It seems, at first, that Nietzsche’s philosophy concerning the power of the will of man as opposed to that of nature is illustrated by creative preoccupation in the arts. One could consider that when the artist reflects the magnificence of nature in his canvasses he is, thereby, giving proof of his own power. The following are poems which Ryder wrote to accompany his paintings: “Dancing Dryads” In the morning, ashen-hued, Came nymphs dancing through the wood. “The Lovers’ Boat” In splendor rare, the room, In full-orbed splendor, On sea and darkness making light, In all vastness, did make, With cattled hill and lake, A scene grand and lovely. Then, gliding above the Dark water, a lover’s boat, In quiet beauty, did float Upon the scene, mingling shadows Into the deeper shadows Of sky and land reflected. “Toilers of the Sea” ‘Neath the shifting skies, O’er the billowing foam, The hardy fisher flies To his island home. “Joan of Arc” On a rude mossy throne Made of nature in the stone Joan sits; and her eyes far away Rest upon the mountains gray And far beyond the moving clouds That wrap the clouds in vap’rous shrouds, Visions she sees— And voices come to her on the breeze. “Passing Song” By a deep flowing river, There is a maiden pale,

And her ruby lips quiver A song on the gale…… ………………………… To the ship that he sails, Goodrich goes on to tell us in his own words that he drifts out to sea, and she will die of grief. In Ryder’s Temple of the Mind which was influenced by Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Haunted Palace”, we can easily notice that he has freely adapted the subject matter of Poe’s poem to suit his conception of the subject. Ryder has changed Poe’s angels to Graces. Whereas Poe describes the evil things as robed in sorrow, one might easily expect that these Graces were intended to represent them, wee it not for the fact that Ryder, himself, designates the Graces as the former inhabitants of the Temple. Whatever liberties Ryder took with Poe’s poem. He has made generous use of another literary source. The Graces and satyrs are characters out of Greek mythology. “Perrette” by Ryder which is said to have been taken from the fables of La Fontaine. “La Laitiere et le pot au lait” substantially illustrates the story as it is told by La Fontaine. He has not chosen here the most dramatic episode of the story and to this extent he has not taken full advantage of the theme. For him to have done so would have made it necessary for him to have represented the human figure in a considerably more complicated pose than the one we see. If the assumption that Ryder could not handle the human figure is correct then it might also be assumed he chose the simpler motif for that reason. King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid offers us interesting material from a number of different aspects. Since “The Beggar Maid” by Tennyson is such a short poem it may be of interest to take it line by line in a comparison with Ryder’s illustration of the same subject. The reader may wish to refer to the poem which is at the end of this section. The beggar maid is described by Tennyson as having her arm across her breasts, dark-haired and barefoot. Ryder pictures her carrying a pot upon her head which she balances with one hand, as blond, and, I think we can assume, as barefoot. Tennyson gives us a very poetic description of a tattered covering for the body when he describes her flesh as the moon and her torn garment as a break in the clouds. Ryder quite possibly found it impossible to take the poetic image so literally and so gives us and impression of a loose, but voluminous garment which both tends to obscure and to reveal the body beneath. I feel there are prototypes to the figure and refer to them in another section. King Cophetus, on the other hand, does not appear in robe or crown nor does he step down in the painting as he is described as doing in the poem. Again we notice that Ryder, where his representation would involve a momentary action on the part

of the human figure, chooses to avoid it. However, the maid herself has assumed a position which is more energetic than that which I called for by the poem and this, again, raises the question of prototypes which we shall try to settle later. The Sea or, Lord Ullin’s Daughter by Ryder chooses the most dramatic moment to illustrate. Ryder shows us that moment just before the boat which carries the lovers and the boatman is about to be swamped. Why has he chosen the most dramatic moment in this poem where, in the others, it appears that he avoided such opportunities for depicting the human figure in action? It may be that in this painting it is the sea which is the more active while the human figures are insignificant in comparison, minute, indistinct. In this way Ryder could avoid representing the human figure in complicated poses and still move us emotionally. This called working around one’s limitations. In other paintings such as Macbeth, As You Like It, and The Flying Dutchman, the human figure assume a more violent role compared to that of a violent nature. In works such as Desdomena, Siegfried and the Rhine Maidens, and perhaps, also The Tempest where the human figure whether dominant or diminished in size is well drawn, we may have to look elsewhere for an explanation. In Desdomena w see a human figure taking up a generous portion of the canvas. She is seated in a relaxed pose, but one that is more complicated than what he usually employs. There is a relatively successful foreshortening between the knees and the pelvis. Desdomena who leans towards her left, rests her elbow on the arm of the chair and her head in her hand. There is nothing which is an obvious error. She is in her bedroom or some other room where she can be n solitude for a moment. This room is characterized by a twin Corinthian pilaster which rises behind her. To the left of this is a private altar on which stands an altar piece. It depicts a Virgin and Child and although sketchily handled by Ryder is reminiscent of many Italian works of earlier centuries. Her feet rest upon what appears to be a Persian rug. There I a vase of flowers standing on a table to her left. I have not been able to locate, in the play itself, any scene which might be considered a source for this work. It might be merely a general characterization of the time and the place. Considering he fact that appurtenances such as just listed are rarely to be found , especially in one canvas, this work poses a plethora of detail which would seemingly suggest more than a literary source. It is possible he had available to him illustrations of the play done by other artists, or that he aw the play and sketched or remembered the scene. I am inclined to doubt the second of these possibilities on the grounds that there is little evidence to support the theory that he had had such an active visual memory and considerable evidence to suggest that he could not have tolerated the curiosity which would naturally have arisen had he assumed paper and pencil and had started to draw during the course of the production. The first suggestion seems the most likely, however, once again. I am not in a position to suggest what it might be. There seems to be a vague notion that one of his contemporary illustrators, Edwin A. Abbey, may have been the source.

Lord Ulin’s Daughter by Thomas Campbell A Chieftan to the Highlands Bound Cries “Boatman do not tarry! And I’ll give thee a silver pound To row us over the ferry!” “Now who be ye, would cross Lockgyle This dark and stormy water?” “O I’m the chief of Ulva’s isle, And this Lord Ullin’s daughter. “And fast before her father’s men Three days we’ve fled together, Or should he find us in the glen, My blood would stain the heather. “His horseman hard behind us ride— Should they our steps discover, Then who would cheer my bonny bride When they have slain her lover?” Out spake the hardy Highland Wight, “I’ll go, my chief, I’m ready: It is not for your silver bright, But for your winsome lady:-“And by my word! The bonny bird In danger shall not tarry; So though the waves are raging white I’ll row you o’er the ferry.” By this the storm grew loud apace, The water-wraith was shrieking; And in the scowl of heaven each face Grew dark as they were speaking. But still as wilder blew the wind And as the night grew drearer, Adown the glen rode armed men, Their trumpling sounded nearer. “O haste thee haste!” the lady cries, “Though tempests round us gather, I’ll meet the raging of the skies, But not an angry father.”

The boat has left a stormy land, A stormy sea before her,-Aken, oh! Too stong for human hand The tempest gather’d o’re her. And still they rowed amidst the roar Of waters fast prevailing: Lord Ullin reached that fatal shore,-His wrath was changed to wailing. For, sore dismay’d, through storm and shade His child he did discover:-One lonely hand she stretched for aid, And one was round her lover. “Come back! Come back!” he cried in grief “Across this stormy water.” The waters wild went o’re his child, And he was left lamenting. *** The Beggar Maid by Alfred Lord Tennyson Her arms across her breast she laid, She was more fair than words can say; Barefooted came the beggar maid Before the king Cophetua, I robe and crown the king stepped down, To meet and greet her on her way. “It is no wonder”, said the lords; “She is more beautiful than day.” As shines the moon in clouded skies, She in her poor attire as seen; One praised he ankles, one her eyes, One her dark and lovesome mien. So sweet a face, such angel grace, In all that land had never been, Cophetua swore a royal oath: “This beggar maid shall be my queen!” (1842) *** La Laitiere et le Pot au Lait by La Fontaine

Perrette, sur au tete ayant un pot au lait

Bien pose sur un coussinet, Pretendait arrier sans encombre a la ville. Legere et cours vetue, elle allait a grand pas, Ayant mie ce jour-la, pour etre plus agile, Cotillon eimple et souiere plate. Notre laitiere ainsi troussee Comptuit dejas dans sa pensee Tout le pris se son lait, en employait l’argent, Ahetait un cent d’oeufs; faissit triple couvee; La chose allaity a bien par son soin diligen. “Il m’est, disait-elle, facile D’elever des polete autour de ma maison; Le renard sera bien habile, S’il ne m’en laisse assez pour avoir un cochon. Le porc a s’engraiesser coutera peu de son: Il etait, quand je l’eus, de grosseur raisonnable: J’aurai,le revendait, de mettre en notre etable, Vu le prix don’t il est, une vache et son veau, Que je verrai sauter au milieu du troupeau?” Perrette la-dessus sauts aussi, transportee: Le lait tombe: adieu, veau, vache, cocjon, couvee! La dame de ces biens, quittant d’un oeil marri Sa fortune ainsi reparidue, Va s’exouser a son mari, En grand danger d’etre battue. Le reciten farce en fut fait; On l’appela le Pot-au-lait. Quel esprit ne bat la campagne? Qui ne fait chateaux en Espagne? Pierochole, Pyrrhus, la laitiere, enfin tous, Autant les sages que Les fous. Chacun songe en veillant; il n’est rien de plus doux, Une flateuse erreur emporte alor nos ames Tous le bien du mondest a nous, Tous les honneure, toutes les femmes. Quand je suis seul, je fsi au plus brave un edfi, Je m’ecarte, je vais detoner le sopi; On m’elit roi, mon peuple m’aime; Les diademe vont sur ma tete pleuvant: Quelque accident jait-il que jerentre en moi-memes? Je sui gros Jean comme devant. *** The Haunted Palace by Edgar Allen Poe

In the greenest of our valleys By good angels tenanted, Once a fair and stately palaceRadiant Palace – reared its head. In the monarch Thought’s dominion – It stood there! Never seraph spread a pinion Over fabric half so fair! Banners yellow, glorious, golden, On its roof did float and flow, (This – all this – was in the golden Time long ago,) And every gentle air that dallied, In that sweet day, Along the ramparts plumed and pallid A winged odor went away. Wanderers in that happy valley, Through two luminous window, saw Spirits moving musically, To a lute’s well-tuned law, Round about a throne where, sitting, (Porphyrogene!) In state his glory well-befitting, The ruler of the realm was seen. And all with pearl and ruby glowing Was the fair palace door, Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing And sparkling evermore, A troup of Echoes, whose sweet duty Was but to sing, In voices of surpassing beauty, The wit and wisdom of their king. But evil things, in robes opf sorrow, Assailed the Monarch’s high estate. (Ah, Let us mourn! – for never morrow Shall dawn upon his desolate!) And round about his hme the glory That blushed and bloomed, Is but a dim-remembered story Of the old time entombed. And travels now within that valley,

Through the red-litten windows see Vast forms, that move fantastically To a discordant melody, While, like ghastly rapid river, Through the pale door A hideous throng rush out forever And laugh - but smile no more. ICONOGRAPHIC INFLUENCES In Pagasus, Ryder has shown us a seated female figure in an attitude something like that of contemplation. She hold in her hands, just above her lap, a disked-shaped object which looks vaguely like a plate. Her garment I loose fitting and flowing. The female figure to the right assumes a similar position, but it is a left-hand figure which is of particular interest to us. Veronese’s “The Holy Family with Infant St. John” offers us a Virgin who is similarly garbed and who also bends her head in a modest and somewhat contemplative manner. Tintoretto’s “St. Mary Magdalene” reveals a similar pose, although considerably less modest than the figure in the Veronese painting. The subject of her contemplation may be something other than that which occupies Ryder’s muse, but the pose and general attirude offer similarities. Titian’s “La Vierge au Lapin”, Polidoro Da Lanciano’s “Sacra Goverzione with Infant Bgaptist, Catherine and Joseph”, Andrea Schiavone’s “Adoration of the Shepherds” and his “Virgin of the Annunciation” painted on an organ shutter, Jacob Basano’s “Epiphany” at the Kunsthistoriste Museum, Vienna offers us similar examples of this type of Renaissance figure. The virgin type with covered head and modest manner. Classical examples of the same type can be found in such works as “The Three Fates” from the east pediment of the Parthenon, although it is only the figure which comes closest to suggesting a seated muse or madonna. The question of influence which we believe to be evident in Ryder’s Siegfried and the Rhine Maidens may, in part, be answered by references to Lorenzo Lotto’s “The Triumph of Chastity” in the Palazzo Rospigliosi Pallavicini, Jacobo Tintoretto’s “Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife”, and his “Venus and Mars with Cupid and the Graces”, as well as the more contemporary “Mary Magdalene” by Honore Daumier all seem to make use of the exposed backward bending female torso with gesticulating arms. One of Ryder’s Rhine Maidens does exactly this. Fragonard’s “Bathers” reminds us of not only the one maiden by Ryder, but all three. Although their juxtaposition is different in the two canvases their poses are similar, particularly those two in Fragonard’s painting which are to be found in the lower left and the center of the canvas. It was mentioned above in connection with Ryder’s King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid that the garment which the maid wears tends to both obscure and to suggest, or reveal, the body beneath. The most obvious similarity can be found in the work of the contemporary French painter, Ange Monticelli in his canvas entitled “Les Bayarderes”. Goodrich reports that when friend took Ryder to see some of the

work of the Frenchman then on exhibit in New York it developed that he had never heard of him. This may be entirely possible, but I believe his friend to be correct in seeing similarities in both technique and subject matter. Interest in pastoral subject matter was a characteristic of the period rather than that of any one individual. Nevertheless, the representation of the female body draped in a manner to voluptuously suggest the body beneath can be seen in both Renaissance and Classical examples . In Benozzo Gozzoli’s “Procession of the Magi” we notice a female figure carrying a pot on her head and leading a child by the hand. In this example we are not so much impressed by any likeness between the two pictures with regard to treatment of body and garment as we are with the striking similarity of the pose.

One again, “The Three Fates” mentioned above serve our purposes here as does the “Victory” by Paionios and the “Victory Tying her Sandal”. The “Victory of Samothrace” does the same thing but in a more flamboyant manner. What we see here is the stabilized weighty body opposed to the unstable, fluttering, partly clinging garment of cloth which sets up a fluctuating impression in the eye, intriguing it and holding its attention. It is more enticing than monumental and, if my interpretation is correct, Ryder was aesthetically consistent even if he lacked the ability to fully integrate his influences, when he chose such a treatment for the maid. My intention here is not to suggest that Ryder consciously referred to antecedent examples, although he may have done so, but to indicate that there are prototypes for the figures that we see in his work. Other examples point to influences which appear to be more contemporary. We see, for example, in Ryder’s Orchard conceptual and technical similarities to the canvases of Corot and to the Barbizon school of painters in general. Most notable among Ryder’s canvases which are so related are The Grazing Horse, The Wood Road, Sunset Hour, and The Lone Horseman. We believe we see in Jonah indications, strong indications, of influences emanating from works by the English painter Turner, not only in color but in design and composition but this discussion properly belongs in the section to follow. COMPOSITIONAL DEVICES In the foregoing section that there may be evidence for thinking of Ryder’s output as largely derivative, that such derivations were, in all likelihood, based on an understanding if his own limitations, that is, in an effort to fill the gap in his training resorted to adopting the graphic symbols of the art world which had filtered down through the centuries and had established themselves as immediately understandable symbols. What he lacked, according to this hypothesis , was sufficient faith in his own creative interests, assuming, of course, that he knew what they were. The fact that Ryder appears to have been largely unsuccessful in adapting these configurations to what we believe to be his own aims poses a problem which we cannot solve without reference to calculated guesses based on a greater knowledge of his training, personality and the psychological significance of the facts we know about him. I am not prepared to do this, but what is within the realm of this paper is an analysis of the methods of composition which Ryder employed. If this evaluation should prove to be valid it should also prove to be of significance in establishing a greater understanding of Ryder’s place in the history of art as well as, and not least of all,

the real nature of artistic creativity which is, I believe, rarely touched upon in all the volumes on the history of art and of aesthetics. For an explanation of my thesis I have selected eighteen of Ryder’s canvases and one by Tuner Snowstorm, Steamboat off a Harbour’s Mouth which is in the Tate Gallery in London and was panted in 1842. It then antedates all of the canvases of Ryder that we are considering. For the sake of clarification I have divided the paintings into two groups. The first group consists of numbers from 1-9T, and the second group from 10 to 19. The titles of these paintings with their numbers are listed below. Schematic representations of these canvases can be located following this section where they are arranged chronologically as the numbers below indicate. 1. Pegasus 2. The White Horse 3. The Temple of the Mind 4. Pastoral Study 5. Siegfried and the Rhine Maidens 6. Moonlight on the Sea 7. The Sea, or, Lord Ullin’s Daughter 8. The Flying Dutchman 9. Snowstorm, Steamboat off a Harbour’s Mouth 10. Homeward Bound 11. Moonrise Marine 12. The Pond 13. Moonlight Marine 14. Under a Cloud 15. Moonlight Cove 16. Marine 17. A Country Girl 18. The Tempest 19. The Canal 19a The Canal. (upside down) Illustration numbered 1 to 9T represents a group which, I believe, are primarily oriented to the Western European tradition of composition building, that is, with an emphasis on flat rhythm and depth rhythm and not, as I suspect, do the second group of canvases, suggest an interest primarily concerned with an ambiguous relationship between the figure and the ground. Should my analysis be correct it should be possible to apply the findings to those canvases which in earlier sections have been criticized for poor draughtsmanship. As the schematic representation of Pegasus illustrates the dominant design patterns are, as we have called hem above, flat rhythm and depth rhythm. The flat rhythm patterns are illustrated with two-dimensionally drawn arrows and

the depth rhythm patterns are illustrated with three-dimensionally drawn arrows. The White Horse is predominantly three-dimensional in it rhythm. The Temple of the Mind combines both, but to a degree considerably more complex than those just mentioned. Ryder was obviously sensitive to balance or he would not have made the large swing inherent in the drawing of the central tree so dominant in Pastoral Study. It successfully returns our eye from the strong rightward movement of the other arrows to the opposite side of the painting where it rests, for a moment on the columnar tree. This tree, by the way, is the only one in the back row of greenery which I sharply shaded. This shading may well serve to accentuate the importance of this tree as a graphic semi-colon, as a pause before the eye continues once again on its travels over the canvas. Siegfried and the Rhine Maidens presents a forceful integration between flat rhythms and depth rhythms. Moonlight on the Sea is a work which is thought by Goodrich to be an earlier work than some of those which have preceded it in discussion here, but I have, nevertheless. Included it at this point because I thought the depth rhythm patterns more subtle. It could well be, however, that this is the subtlety of innocence rather than of sophistication. Considering that Ryder showed little sophistication in the majority of his work I am quite likely mistaken in placing it in this order. The Sea, or, Lord Ullin’s Daughter is certainly composed in a manner at the opposite end of the continuum from the geometrically conceived classicism of the Renaissance design in Pegasus. It, nevertheless, properly belongs to this group for the emphasis of its construction is clearly on flat and depth rhythm patterns. Both Ryder’s Flying Dutchman and Turner’s Snowstorm, Steamboat of a Harbour’s Mouth appear to combine both systems into what might be described as a vortex. This “vortex” movement contains, inseparably, the circular rhythm which takes us whirling from one end of the canvas to the other and depth patterns which send us immeasurably into the heart of the work. Thus, in this system of organization, Ryder has achieved, dare we say, with the help of Turner, his apex of achievement. With the help of the schematic illustrations from 10-19, I hope to make clear what I suspect to be the very heart of Ryder’s creative interest. Homeward Bound presents us with an undistinguished composition consisting primarily of to horizontals of uneven area broken by an equally flat and relatively uninteresting shape of the sail. The character of the boat itself is not more interesting as a piece of painting. Moonrise Marine is similar in conception but benefits somewhat from the added interest achieved by inverting the shape of the boat which takes the form of a reflection in the water. The Pond is precariously designed with the greater part of the interest accumulated in the right hand side of the painting. It is doubtful that the repetition of branch forms in an ever diminishing manner succeeds in bringing the eye back into the picture. In Moonlight Marine we see the first of this group which actually begins to come o grips with the problem. This problem may be said to be the attempt to integrate the various aspects of a flat pattern which will pulsate with a life of its own, quite apart from the subject matter, through the oppositions between figure and ground.

This relationship begins to become apparent in the upper right-hand corner of the painting as indicated by the arrows. Under a Cloud presents us with another example of this kind of figure construction. The letter “B” indicates the area and points out that the form of the sail and the form of the cloud at those places indicated by arrows, because their near parallelism , seem to suggest a form of life. This life is the life of the forms which are a part of the painting rather than the life of the subject matter. In fact, this parallelism seems to create a form out of what ordinarily is considered or accepted as ground. In Moonlit Cove we see an interesting combination of the two types of composition which I have tried to describe. In the foreground of this picture we see inclination to illustrate the principles of flat and depth rhythm patterns which are abruptly halted by a massive rock seemingly impossible to penetrate. In area “A” we have three forms approaching, the point of rock, the cloud on the left and the cloud on the right. I said the “approaching” of three forms, I could have said the separation of three forms. Not only do the clouds themselves appear as though they have just separated, the cloud on the left leaving a negative of itself in the cloud on the right, but that both clouds and the rock itself seem once to have been parts of the same form. The bottom of the cloud on the right follows rhythmically the character and the form of the top of the rock. Much can be said of the butt end of the rock and the cloud to the left. The point of rock from which the arrow springs appears as form fitting to see area “A” as a baby’s mouth to a nipple. Area “C” in Marine presents a strong supporting argument. In these instances the ground becomes as meaningful as a form as does the figure. Areas “G” and “F” in A Country Girl do exactly the same thing. In those figures which we recognize as tree, girl, head, foliage, it is possible to re-visualize them as forms capable o fitting corresponding areas in adjacent forms. It could be said that they have only just separated themselves from a flatness which we might say was undifferentiated and have become differentiated flatness in which there is actually no “representation” of depth. Instead, we experience an ambiguity between figure and ground which stimulates the eye to check again, and again. These abstracted patterns are the creations of the forms themselves and bare little, if any, to the perceptual phenomenon the eye experiences in the great outof-doors. If we look still more closely, we can see in “A” (Country Girl) an attempt at creating, or, perhaps, reestablishing the original flatness of the canvas. The line of the horizon would create, if the arm of the girl did not interfere, a continuation with the division of the blouse and skirt which the girl is wearing. In academic drawing techniques such tangents are avoided or they tend to flatten.

In The Tempest we have a vital combination of both systems as the arrows and areas “E” and “D” attempt to show. I have chosen The Canal as an example of what might be considered the end of Ryder’s development along this line. The Canal, if turned up-side-down would reveal that Ryder has so integrated the images of patterns and subject matter that it becomes possible for us to accept the painting either way. Ryder’s “organic” forms fit each other and figure and ground seem to create surface tension on the canvas which can be enjoyed simultaneously with his “representation” of the subject. Ryder achieved in this canvas a synthesis of the Western European tradition of composition based primarily on flat and depth rhythm patterns as well as strengthened abstract pattern based on a controlled ambiguity between figure and ground. If we turn once again to the discussion of Ryder’s draughtsmanship in light of what we have just discussed it is possible to suggest that he struggled with what he intellectually realized was the acceptable mode of picture making with its emphasis on subject matter while, perhaps, unconsciously responding to aesthetic impulses which he did not fully understand. These aesthetic responses were of a kind theorized in this last section and were native to him. If such a struggle really existed for Ryder it could well be that he accomplished more than a more facile artist who had no compulsive need to hew out such a novel solution to the problem of picture making. BIBLIOGRAPHY Berenson, Bernard, “Italian Pictures of The Renaissance”, Venetian School, Vol II, London: Phaidon Press, Ltd., 1957. ------------------------, “The Italian Painters of the Renaissance”, London: Phaidon Press Ltd., 1952. 488PP. Burroughs, Bryson, “Albert P. Ryder”, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Sixth Loan Exhibition, 1930. Clare, Charles, “J.M.W.Turner, His life and Work”, London: Phoenix House, 1951. 128pp. Coquiot, Gustave, “Monticelli”, Paris: Albin Michel, Editeur, 1925, 263pp. Cross, Milton, “The Complete Storiesd of the Great Operas”, New York: Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1948. 627pp. Hibbard, Addison, “Writers of the Western World”, New York: Houghton Miflin Co., 1942. 1261pp. Losey, Frederick, “The Kingsway Shakespeare”, London: George G. Harrap & Co., Ltd., 1932. 1331pp.

Palgrave, F.T., “The Golden Treasury with Additional Poems”, London: Oxford University Press, 1922. 526pp. Sewall, John Ives, “A History of Western Art” , New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1953, 957pp. Serullaz, Maurice, “orot”, London: A. Zwemmer, 1951. Main Reference: Goodrich, L., :Albert P. Ryder, New York: George Braziller, inc., 1959. 128pp.