John Frederick Peto

Artist (United States)
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John Frederick Peto (1854-1907) was born and raised in Philadelphia. He espoused a highly realistic style of painting that reflected the period's rationalism and concern for materiality, an aesthetic in opposition to the freer and individualistic handling of paint of the contemporaneous impressionists. In the late 1870s, Peto entered the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he became friends with William Harnett, recently returned to the academy after several years in New York City. It was about this time that Harnett began exhibiting his mature illusionistic still lifes. Although most still life painters aim to be convincingly realistic, Harnett went beyond mere imitation, often to the point of deception. These still lifes made Harnett’s fame and spawned a virtual movement of followers. Peto considered Harnett his "ideal of perfection in still life painting," and as Harnett, specialized in still lifes, both table-top compositions and trompe l’oeil ("deceives the eye").