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Rack Picture for William Malcolm Bunn

1882 John F. Peto Born: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1854 Died: Island Heights, New Jersey 1907 oil on canvas 24 x 20 in. (61.0 x 50.8 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Nathaly Baum in memory of Harry Baum 1973.148 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, 14B


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Rack Picture for William Malcolm Bunn

Luce Center Label

John F. Peto made this painting for William Malcolm Bunn, a Philadelphia newspaper editor whose photograph, correspondence, and newspaper banner all appear in the image. Most of Peto's patrons were self-made businessmen, and he would often include references to their work in "rack pictures" meant to hang in their offices. X-rays of this canvas show that Peto at one point included the words "V[er]y Truly Yours/Wm Bunn" beneath the painted photographic image of the editor.

Peto's paintings are like games that make detective work part of the fun of reading them. There are several references to a puzzling character named Garibaldi McFod, whose name appears on the profile caricature of the bearded man. This name also appears on an envelope addressed to McFod at the Sunday Transcript, Bunn's newspaper. (Bolger, "The Early Rack Paintings of John F. Peto: 'Beneath the Nose of the Whole World,'" in Lowenthal, ed., The Object as Subject: Studies in the Interpretation of Still Life, 1996)

Keywords

Still life - art object - photograph

Still life - trompe l'oeil

Still life - written matter - letter

Still life - written matter - newspaper

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

About John F. Peto

Born: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1854 Died: Island Heights, New Jersey 1907

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