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Rack Picture for Dr. Nones

A work made of oil on canvas.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of oil on canvas.




Attributed to William A. Mitchell
American, 1828–1890

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.

On View

American Art, Gallery 173


William A. Mitchell


Rack Picture for Dr. Nones






Oil on canvas


45.7 × 37.8 cm (17 1/4 × 14 1/8 in.)

Credit Line

Mr. and Mrs. Frederick G. Wacker Jr. Endowment Fund; through prior gift of Mrs. Albert J. Beveridge in memory of Abby Louise Spencer Eddy

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

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