"Every leaf of the tree becomes a page of the book, once the heart is opened and it has learnt to read." -- Saadi
Books on a Table
Oil on canvas
John Frederick Peto
John Frederick Peto painted still life arrangements almost exclusively, a choice likely inspired by its strong tradition in his native Philadelphia, begun almost a century earlier by the Peale family. Books on a Table presents a variety of objects associated with a gentleman's study. Precariously balanced, the arrangement suggests contemplation, if not lament, of the end of the 19th century. The quill pen and candle mark technologies that were antiquated by 1900. The magically turning pages of the book at the apex of the composition invoke the passage of time. The isolated and neglected objects may also symbolize the painter himself, who created his art in virtual seclusion.