August's Painting of the Month:
John F. Peto, 1854-1907
In the Library, 1894-1900
Oil on canvas, 76.2 x 101.6 cm (30 x 40 in.) A master of tabletop still lifes as well as rack and door pictures, Peto’s works are notable for the realism of their worn and shabby objects. In the Library is a tribute to an era before electricity when reading brought enjoyment to many people and a library was an essential part of every middle-class home. Here, a table is piled high with old worn books. Haphazardly arranged, the volumes are faded, and one book cover dangles precariously off the edge of the table. Not a single legible title or author appears on the visible spines. Closed to the viewer, these books withhold whatever information or knowledge they contain. The candle, often a symbol of the brevity of life, has been blown out creating a feeling of subtle melancholy. Peto also created a number of vertical still lives, such as Still Life with Hat, Umbrella and Bag, which can be seen in the Timken's summer exhibition Collections in Context: American Art from a Pacific Northwest Collection, 1860-1915, on view July 1- September 4, 2016.
View In the Library in the Colleciton.