About this artwork
This type of trompe l’oeil (fools the eye) painting simulates an old-fashioned bulletin board that held important, yet ephemeral documents like letters and newspaper clippings under strips of ribbon. Such “rack picture” still lifes functioned as biographical portraits, in this case for Dr. Samuel Smith Nones, the prominent Philadelphia dentist who commissioned this work. Adjacent to the central letter to Dr. S. S. Nones are envelopes addressed to medical colleagues and one to Nones’s brother. The painting’s illusionistic fragments cleverly define the dentist’s professional and personal identity, narrating a rich tale of camaraderie and achievement for an inner circle of viewers. William A. Mitchell, the father of the youngest dentist in the group, likely executed the composition.
- William A. Mitchell
- Rack Picture for Dr. Nones
- Oil on canvas
- 45.7 × 37.8 cm (17 1/4 × 14 1/8 in.)
- Frederick G. Wacker Endowment; through prior gift of Mrs. Albert J. Beveridge in memory of Abby Louise Spencer Eddy