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The Cover
January 25, 2012

Lights of Other Days

JAMA. 2012;307(4):339. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.2027

The earliest surviving painting by John Frederick Peto (1854-1907) is dated 1875, when he was 21, but he had been sketching and making watercolor studies since childhood. In 1877 Peto enrolled briefly at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he took a night class from the American painter Thomas Eakins that included instruction in still-life composition and the use of light and shadow to model solid forms. About the same time he opened a studio in Philadelphia. He would accept a commission at almost any price, making pictures for podiatrists, shoemakers, hatmakers, and politicians of the tools of their trades and selling them for as little as three or four dollars. Peto supplemented his income by designing greeting cards, taking portrait photographs, and playing the cornet at church services. In 1887 he met Christine Pearl Smith on a trip to Cincinnati, Ohio, to paint a picture for the Stag Saloon, and they were married a few months later.

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