National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Siegfried and the Rhine Maidens Albert Pinkham Ryder (artist)
American, 1847 - 1917
Siegfried and the Rhine Maidens, 1888/1891
oil on canvas
overall: 50.5 x 52 cm (19 7/8 x 20 1/2 in.) framed: 75.3 x 77.2 x 6.4 cm (29 5/8 x 30 3/8 x 2 1/2 in.)
Andrew W. Mellon Collection
1946.1.1
Not on View
From the Tour: Homer and Eakins: American Painters in the Late 1800s
Object 1 of 8

Albert Pinkham Ryder, though a near contemporary of both Homer and Eakins, was a very different sort of painter. Hermitlike and visionary, he explored biblical, literary, and mythological themes. His Siegfried and the Rhine Maidens was inspired by Richard Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelungs. Ryder claimed, “I had been to hear the opera and went home about twelve o’clock and began this picture. I worked for forty-eight hours without sleep or food.” Nevertheless, when he exhibited the canvas in New York in 1891, he had been revising it for three years.

Lit by an eerie moon, the Rhine River nymphs recoil in horror when they realize that the German warrior Siegfried possesses their stolen, magic ring. After he refuses to return it, they predict that he will die violently. To evoke impending doom, Ryder devised tortured shapes, crusty textures, and an unearthly green color scheme.

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