A typical work by Peto, this painting bears the false signature of William Michael Harnett, his better-known contemporary. Actually, Harnett seems to have been inspired to create “rack” paintings by Peto’s example in pictures such as this one. Some of the objects stuck in the grid are dated or datable and provide clues to the years when the artist seems to have worked on the painting. The photograph of Peto’s daughter shown at the upper left was probably added, over an earlier portrait, around 1900, when the girl was about seven. Peto’s delineation of objects is more generalized and less purely descriptive than Harnett’s.
Inscription: [falsely, at lower left]: WMH [monogram] ARNETT / 1881
with Downtown Gallery, New York, until 1940; Oliver Burr Jennings, New York, by 1945–died 1968