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Albert Pinkham Ryder
Jonah
about 1885–95
oil
27 1/4 x 34 3/8 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of John Gellatly



Jonah unites Ryder's favorite themes of damnation and redemption with his love of the sea. When Jonah defied God's order to go to Nineveh, a great storm threatened to capsize his ship. His terrified companions threw him overboard into the jaws of a great fish. Ryder's tumultuous, churning composition, with its overpowering waves filling the canvas almost to the top, expresses his own sense of abandonment and despair as he sought in vain to take control of his life in middle age. Redemption, he felt, rested in the hands of a forgiving God, who here spreads his cloud-wings over the desperate scene below.