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Passing Song

before 1902 Albert Pinkham Ryder Born: New Bedford, Massachusetts 1847 Died: New York, New York 1917 oil on wood 8 1/2 x 4 3/8 in. (21.6 x 11.1 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of John Gellatly 1929.6.103 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, 6B

Hear more about
Passing Song

Hear more about
Passing Song
from American Art staff

Luce Center Quote

"By a deep flowing river

There's a maiden pale,

And her ruby lips quiver

A song on the gale,

A wild note of longing

Entranced to hear,

A wild song of longing

Falls sad on the ears."

Albert Pinkham Ryder, quoted in Broun, Albert Pinkham Ryder, 1989

Luce Center Label

In the mid-1890s, Albert Pinkham Ryder was infatuated with a voice he heard in his apartment building. He found the woman who was singing and immediately asked her to marry him. His friends intervened, saying that the woman was unsuitable, but Ryder immortalized the event by painting images of beautiful women bewitching men with their songs. In Passing Song the sailor wants to approach the woman but is unable to turn his rudderless boat as it drifts away with the current. This helpless figure probably symbolizes the artist, who felt passionately about women and fell in love easily, but never married. (Broun, Albert Pinkham Ryder, 1989)


Figure female

Landscape - coast

Landscape - water

Literature - Ryder - Passing Song

Performing arts - music - voice

Waterscape - boat


paint - oil