Genre and Still Life Painting

John Frederick Peto (1854–1907)
Old Time Letter Rack, 1894
Oil on canvas, 30 1/8 x 25 1/4 in. (76.5 x 64.1 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Art Acquisition Endowment Fund, 2015.5

Object-John Frederick Peto, Old Time Letter Rack

A master of American trompe l’oeil painting during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, John Frederick Peto is particularly known for his letter-rack pictures—displays not only of letters but also of newspaper clippings, photographs, and other ephemera. The Terra Foundation’s work shows used objects strewn across a simple rack made of taut, frayed strips of fabric pinned to a wooden surface. Trompe l’oeil paintings are often layered with wordplay, visual puns, and narrative meaning, and Peto was known for the subtle personal hints he inserted into his works. The newspaper and letters, which bear Ohio addresses and postage, reinforce an autobiographical reading of the image. Peto painted Old Time Letter Rack in 1894, the same year he and his wife briefly relocated to her home state of Ohio. He thus imbued this assemblage with tantalizing bits of family history and the significance of place.

Learn more about this painting on the Terra Foundation website.



Genre and Still Life Painting

Eastman Johnson (1824–1906)
Fiddling His Way, c. 1866
Oil on artist's board, 20 7/8 x 24 7/8 in. (53 x 63.2 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Art Acquisition Endowment Fund, 1999.8
Lilly Martin Spencer (1822–1902)
The Home of the Red, White, and Blue, c. 1867–68
Oil on canvas, 24 x 30 in. (61 x 76.2 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Art Acquisition Endowment Fund, 2007.1
William Sidney Mount (1807–1868)
Fruit Piece: Apples on Tin Cups, 1864
Oil on academy board, 6 1/2 x 9 1/16 in. (16.5 x 23.0 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1999.100
Winslow Homer (1836–1910)
Apple Picking, 1878
Watercolor and gouache on paper, laid down on board, 7 x 8 3/8 in. (17.8 x 21.3 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1992.7
William Sidney Mount (1807–1868)
The Trap Sprung, 1844
Oil on panel, 12 7/8 x 17 1/16 in. (32.7 x 43.3 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1992.52
Robert Spear Dunning (1829–1905)
Harvest of Cherries, 1866
Oil on canvas, 20 x 26 1/2 in. (50.8 x 67.3 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1999.48
Samuel Colman, Jr. (1832–1920)
Ships Unloading, New York, 1868
Oil on canvas mounted on board, 41 5/16 x 29 15/16 in. (105.0 x 76.0 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1984.4
John George Brown (1831–1913)
Picnic Party in the Woods, 1872
Oil on canvas, 24 5/16 x 44 in. (61.8 x 111.8 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1994.1
Martin Johnson Heade (1819–1904)
Still Life with Apple Blossoms in a Nautilus Shell, 1870
Oil on canvas, 21 x 17 in. (53.3 x 43.2 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Art Acquisition Endowment Fund, 1999.7
Thomas Waterman Wood (1783–1872)
The Yankee Pedlar, 1872
Oil on canvas, 28 x 40 in. (71.1 x 101.6 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Art Acquisition Endowment Fund, 1998.3
George Caleb Bingham (1811–1879)
The Jolly Flatboatmen, 1877–78
Oil on canvas, 26 1/16 x 36 3/8 in. (66.2 x 92.4 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1992.15
John Haberle (1853–1933)
One Dollar Bill, 1890
Oil on canvas, 8 × 10 in. (20.3 × 25.4 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Art Acquisition Endowment Fund, 2015.4
Winslow Homer (1836–1910)
The Whittling Boy, 1873
Oil on canvas, 15 3/4 x 22 11/16 in. (40.0 x 57.6 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1994.12
John Frederick Peto (1854–1907)
Old Time Letter Rack, 1894
Oil on canvas, 30 1/8 x 25 1/4 in. (76.5 x 64.1 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Art Acquisition Endowment Fund, 2015.5