Amon Carter print details

A Closet Door

John Frederick Peto (1854-1907)

Object Details

  • Date


  • Object Type


  • Medium

    Oil on canvas

  • Dimensions

    40 1/4 x 30 1/8 in.

  • Inscriptions


    signed, u.l.: John F Peto [as a compositional device]

    [see file for old label information]

  • Credit Line

    Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas

  • Accession Number


  • Copyright

    Public domain

Object Description

Portraying letters, notes, and assorted mementos pinned to a door with strips of fabric, A Closet Door functions as an indirect form of self-portraiture. In the top left, an illusionistic rendering of Peto’s name carved in wood indicates that the items on display belong to the artist. But their personal significance is not obvious. An envelope postmarked “Philadelphia” refers to the city of Peto’s birth, but what to make of the folded almanac, portrait of George Washington, or novel by Catherine Crowe? There are no immediate clues as to how these items relate to Peto’s life or interests. Instead, the picture offers signs of wear and loss, including a broken hinge, the remnants of a torn orange card, and the frayed fabric of the letter rack. Presenting an array of personal items without a clarifying context, A Closet Door hints at the ways meaning can fade from objects over time.

—Text taken from the Carter Handbook (2023)

Additional details

Location: On view
See more by John Frederick Peto


Educator Resources
  • What is a still life?

    What draws artists and audiences to hyperrealistic works of art?

    What choices does an artist make when creating a still life?

    What can the objects chosen for a still life tell us about the artist, patron, or time in which they were created?

  • Grades 1–3

    Have students look at the objects in this painting and write a description of the person who collected them. For example, what does the collector do for a living? What does he or she do for fun? How old is the collector?

    Grades 4–8

    Have students imagine this is their closet door and they have collected all of these objects. Students will write a journal entry describing their collection and why these objects are important. Be sure to have students describe the door where the collection is displayed.

    All Levels

    Students will design their own closet door in a manner similar to Peto. Have students think about the door they will use; what type of door is it? (Students may add any elements they deem necessary to give their door a realistic appearance, I.e., locks, handles, texture of the material.) Students can consider selecting objects that answer the following questions:

    • Where are you from?
    • Do you have a favorite book, or a book that you are reading now?
    • Who is an important figure in your life, someone you admire?
    • Is there something that you used to love but have now outgrown? Perhaps a trace of it remains.
    • If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

    Don’t forget to have students add their name somewhere on the door.

Amon Carter Disclaimer

This information is published from the Carter's collection database. Updates and additions based on research and imaging activities are ongoing. The images, titles, and inscriptions are products of their time and are presented here as documentation, not as a reflection of the Carter’s values. If you have corrections or additional information about this object please email us to help us improve our records.

Every effort has been made to accurately determine the rights status of works and their images. Please email us if you have further information on the rights status of a work contrary or in addition to the information in our records.