Peto’s numerous “rack” pictures were often commissioned, and many contain clues to the identities of their original owners in the objects stuck behind the crisscrossed tape. In this example, a postcard and an envelope are clearly addressed to Dr. Bernard Goldberg, a chiropodist and a neighbor of Peto’s in Philadelphia. The doctor may well have asked the artist to make the painting. Among the items depicted is a portrait, presumably of the doctor, perhaps representing an actual photograph taken by Peto. As seen here, Peto strove for decorative effects of color and texture and was less interested in illusionistic realism than was William Michael Harnett.
Signature: [at lower right]: John F. Peto / 4.85 / Phila.; [on the back]: OFFICE BOARD / JOHN F. PETO / ARTIST / 4.85
Marking: [stamped on canvas on reverse]: JANENTZKY & WEBER / ARTISTS MATERIALS / No. 1125 Chestnut Street / PHILADELPHIA
with Downtown Gallery, New York, by 1949; T. H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, New York, 1949–1953; George P. Guerry, New York, 1953; with Paul Magriel, New York, 1953–1955