A Wild Note of Longing: Albert Pinkham Ryder and a Century of American Art

By Christina Connett Brophy, PhD, Elizabeth Broun, PhD, and William C. Agee


Ryder book cover

This long-overdue new look at the life and work of beloved painter Albert Pinkham Ryder explores the powerful and enduring directions he forged for generations of American modernists.

Few American artists have captured painters’ imaginations with the gripping force of Albert Pinkham Ryder (1847–1917). The brooding spirituality of his works, coupled with formal innovation decades ahead of its time, have long made Ryder a favorite of trailblazers like Jackson Pollock, Marsden Hartley, and Robert Rauschenberg. And yet, the artist’s biography and practices remain elusive. A Wild Note of Longing—whose title comes from a Ryder poem—takes up the challenge, bringing a new generation of scholarship to the most comprehensive collection of Ryder masterworks assembled to date.

Ryder is considered a seminal artist for both the late nineteenth-century Gilded Age and for the emerging modernism of the early twentieth century. This monumental new book presents multiple voices from leaders in the field on the continuing and ever evolving relevance of Albert Pinkham Ryder in modern art. In addition to a general overview of the artist’s career, essays also cover Ryder within the context of his hometown of New Bedford, Massachusetts, and Ryder’s influence and context within modernism.


Christina Connett Brophy is The Douglas and Cynthia Crocker Endowed Chair for the Chief Curator, New Bedford Whaling Museum, Massachusetts.

Elizabeth Broun is Director Emerita of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery; she is the Visual Arts Advisor to the Kennedy Center, and a member of the boards of the Henry Luce Foundation and the Olana Partnership.

William C. Agee is Evelyn Kranes Kossak Professor Emeritus of Art History, Hunter College, New York, and is former director of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and Pasadena Art Museum.