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21 January 2015

Still Life with J. F. Peto's Salt-glazed Mug, Clementine, and Match (+ Peto Museum Workshop)


Private Collection

photos: Garry Kravit
In November, I taught a workshop at one of my favorite places: the John F. Peto Studio Museum. If you're not familiar, John Frederick Peto (1854-1907), born in Philadelphia, was a late nineteenth-century figure in the trompe l’oeil school of American still life painting. The Peto Museum is a renowned and memorable studio museum about 2 hours east of Philadelphia where I live and work.

The Museum invited me to use Peto's still life objects in my painting demonstration during this year’s workshop (I painted Peto’s copper jug in 2013). In addition to Peto’s characteristic use of matches as subject matter -- which I placed in my still life as an homage -- Peto often painted the salt-glazed mug that I selected from the Museum’s collection for my still life. As I was setting up my still life, I was amazed thinking that Peto held this very object in his hands, too. As I was painting, I felt a deep connection to Peto. It is impossible to fully put it into words. Painting for me is a deep inquiry into the moment, light, and still life objects.

photo: Garry Kravit
Teaching and painting at the Peto Museum is awe-inspiring. Setting up one of Peto's still life objects in my own still life set up is an incredible experience, especially because Peto used the mug so often in his still life paintings (see below).

If you're interested, below are two of Peto’s salt-glazed mug paintings: Mugs, Pipe and Matches and Book, Pipe and Mug, both from c. 1880, which were on view in the exhibition, Important Information Inside: The Art of John F. Peto and the Idea of Still-Life Painting in Nineteenth-Century America, at Washington, D.C.’s National Gallery of Art in 1983.

The exhibition featured sixty-one paintings by John F. Peto.

Peto's own paintings of
his salt-glazed mug
(Image source: the exhibition's hardcover catalog Important Information Inside: The Art of John F. Peto and the Idea of Still-Life Painting in Nineteenth-Century America, by John Wilmerding, Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1983.)

Here are photos of my painting demo, more of Peto's paintings, and the workshop

Next time, I'll post a bit more about the workshop and the fabulous group of painters who came to study, paint, talk painting, laugh, and just spend time with me.

Enjoy,