Jonah at Sea is an oil on canvas painting by American artist Albert Pinkham Ryder that measures 69 x 87 cm and was created circa 1885-1895. The piece depicts a Biblical tale of Jonah, which Ryder chose for its poetic temperament and suited his style of working. The signature style of the painter is characterized by broad, sometimes ill-defined shapes or stylized figures situated in a dream-like land or seascape.
Ryder reworked this painting numerous times, resulting in densely painted canvases with soft paint layers that are still noticeable to the touch after over a century. His art shared an emphasis on subtle color variations with tonalist works of the time but accentuated form uniquely that some art historians view as modernist.
Albert Pinkham Ryder was known for his moody allegorical works and seascapes as well as an eccentric personality. A major exhibition featuring Ryder’s paintings is currently underway at The New Bedford Whaling Museum.
In summary, “Jonah at Sea” by Albert Pinkham Ryder depicts a Biblical story through the artist’s signature style featuring broad shapes and stylized figures. This painting is one of Ryder’s most densely painted canvases due to his multiple reworkings over time. Despite being grouped with tonalist works, Ryder’s style accentuates distinctive form which sets him apart from other artists of his era such as modernist painters.”