About This Artwork

John Quidor
American, 1801–1881

Rip Van Winkle, 1829

Oil on canvas
69.9 x 87.3 cm (27 1/2 x 34 3/8 in.)

George F. Harding Collection, 1982.765

One of the most original literary painters of the mid-19th century, John Quidor frequently drew on the popular tales of the American author Washington Irving, interpreting them with great imagination and a genuine flair for drama. Quidor’s Rip Van Winkle depicts the moment that Rip, awake after his 20-year sleep in the Catskill Mountains, confronts the suspicious townsfolk who do not recognize their long-lost neighbor. Unlike many portrayals of Rip Van Winkle that emphasize his age and confusion, Quidor’s version casts Rip as strong and defiant. Gesturing forcefully at his son (who is slumped against a tree), Rip acts to regain his sense of belonging in a now-unfamiliar world.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

New York, National Academy of Design, Annual Exhibition, 1829, cat. 8.

Publication History

David M. Sokol, "John Quidor, Painter of American Legend," exh. cat. (Wichita Art Museum; University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1973) p. 80 (ill.). dated incorrectly as 1867.

"Master Paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago" (Chicago, 1983) p. 7 (ill.).

Ross Barrett, "Rendering Violence: Riots, Strikes, and Upheaval in Nineteenth-Century American Art," (University of California Press, 2014). Cover, p. 40 (ill.).

View mobile website