Platt Powell Ryder
P. P. Ryder was a 19th-century genre painter who seems to have sought the ordinary, the commonplace, as settings for his sensitive portrayal of his subjects. The first example by Ryder was illustrated in a 1965 issue of the Kennedy Quarterly, and I found the painting tucked away eight years later in the racks. African-American paintings that neither trivialize nor romanticize the subject, but instead seek an honest and dignified portrayal of the era, are of great interest. To my eyes, Ryder succeeded with this piece. The second example by Ryder was discovered in Sydney, Australia, while my family lived there in 1978. A local gallery had this picture and knew virtually nothing about it, other than it was certainly the earliest and best painting they owned. It was priced significantly higher than it would have been in America, which is actually not surprising considering how little 19th-century work exists in Australia. “Time for a well-developed campaign to convince this dealer what the price should be,” I thought. So, back to my reference library and numerous obscure facts, and several visits to the gallery I eventually wore him down to my version of reality. I’ve often wondered how this painting found its way to Australia and then back home again to America.