Albert Pinkham Ryder (March 19, 1847 – March 28, 1917) was an American painter best known for his poetic and moody allegorical works and seascapes, as well as his eccentric personality. While his art shared an emphasis on subtle variations of color with tonalist works of the time, it was unique for accentuating form in a way that some art historians regard as modernist.
Ryder used his materials liberally and without care. His paintings, which he often worked on for ten years or more, were built up of layers of paint and varnish applied on top of each other. He would often paint into wet varnish, or apply a layer of fast-drying paint over a layer of slow-drying paint. The result is that paintings by Ryder remain unstable and become much darker over time; they crack readily, do not fully dry even after decades, and sometimes completely disintegrate. Because of this, and because some Ryder paintings were completed or reworked by others after his death, many Ryder paintings appear very different today than they did when first created. Many of his paintings suffered damage even during Ryder’s lifetime, and he tried to restore them in his later years.