George Biddle, Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow, No. 4

Oil on canvas
Credit Line
Gift of the Michael Biddle Family, 2023
40 x 50 in.

Washington Irving’s classic story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1820), tells the tale of schoolteacher Ichabod Crane, who is chased through the night by a headless horseman, the ghost of a German mercenary who fought on the English side in the Revolutionary War.

Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow, No. 4 is the culminating work in Biddle’s series in which the horseman represents the spirit of war and death, much like the apocalyptic rider who appears in the artist’s murals in Rio de Janeiro and Mexico City. Riding below on his own horse, Crane crouches in fear; he represents those seeking to simply live their lives and avoid the devastation of warfare. The most charismatic figure in the painting is the horseman’s large, blue-gray horse, who looks out at the viewer and rolls its red eyes knowingly.


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