The Man Behind It All John Frederick Peto is recognized by the art world as an American master of the trompe l’oeil or “fool the eye” school of still-life painting. He was born in Philadelphia in 1854, went to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1877 and exhibited there that same year.

John Frederick Peto is recognized by the art world as an American master of the trompe l’oeil or “fool the eye” school of still-life painting. He was born in Philadelphia in 1854, went to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1877 and exhibited there that same year.


John Frederick Peto was born on May 21, 1854 in Philadelphia to Catherine Marion Ham and Thomas Hope Peto, a picture frame gilder and dealer in fire department supplies. He was the first born of five children and, except for the early years, was raised by his maternal grandparents, Hoffman and Caroline Ham. He lived with them and two maiden aunts, Margaret and Maria, until his mid-twenties. Despite this, Peto seemed especially close to his father. Family relationships – both immediate and extended – were always at the center of Peto’s life. Click here to view family documentation.

Peto was first listed in the 1876 Philadelphia directory as a painter on Chestnut Street where he maintained a studio close to other Philadelphia artists and his art supply dealer. Peto’s uncle, William Bell, a noted Civil War photographer, had his studio nearby and must have influenced Peto to pursue photography. Interestingly, a letter written by one of his granddaughters to a genealogist stated, “We learned accidentally that he (Peto) had originally come to the Heights to open up a photography studio before he decided to concentrate on his art.” Peto was a musician as well as a painter and played the cornet in the Philadelphia Fire Department Band and at religious meetings. In 1877, he enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts where he became friends with William Harnett, known for his trompe l’oeil still life paintings. Although Peto attended the academy for only a year, he maintained his studio and contributed regularly to the academy’s annual exhibitions. Peto lived for a time in Cincinnati, Ohio where he met his wife, Christine Pearl Smith, a schoolteacher from Loredo.


In 1889, Peto and his new wife moved to Island Heights, a Christian family resort incorporated as a Methodist Camp Meeting Association ten years earlier. Peto had ties to Island Heights where he had visited his aunts during the summer at their cottage on Camp Walk.

In 1890, Peto designed and built a house at the corner of Cedar and Westray Avenues. Read more about the Restoration Story. A studio was added on to the side of the house within a couple of years. Photos taken during Peto’s lifetime showed that Peto not only painted in his studio surrounded by the clutter of objects frequently depicted in his paintings but the room also served as a photography studio and hub of family activity. Peto later built a barn and playhouse and moved his aunts’ old camp cottage to the property. Family members recall splendid apple trees, a hedge of quince, and a lovely grape arbor.

In 1893, Peto’s only child, Helen Sterrill Peto was born. By all accounts, Peto doted on his daughter and was a very devoted father and family man. In addition to Christine (whom he often called Pearl) and Helen, Peto’s aunts, Margaret and Maria Ham, rounded out the household.

In moving to Island Heights, Peto removed himself from the bustling Philadelphia art scene and lived a quiet life devoted to family and art. While his friend and colleague William Harnett found success as an artist, Peto worked in obscurity in Island Heights for the rest of his life. To make ends meet, Peto played the cornet for the Island Heights Methodist Camp Meeting and he and his wife took in seasonal boarders. He supplemented his income by selling paintings to tourists and often bartered small paintings for goods and services. Many paintings were sold to local business people and to the local drug store, C. B. Mathis, where they were on display.

Peto’s later years were marred by Bright’s Disease, a painful kidney ailment, problems with his aging aunts, and a lengthy lawsuit involving his maternal family’s inheritance. Peto died in 1907 at age 54 as a result of unsuccessful treatment for his kidney disease. A poem, written in memory of John F. Peto by Samuel Callan shortly after his death, tells much about the man and makes a prediction:

Where winding Toms glides gently to the Bay, 
	On Island Heights - a Cottage may be seen
		There Artist lived - of unassuming way,
			In snug retreat did pleasures know serene.
"Still-life" he knew, in home as well as art,
	His studio reminding of Harnett,
		Where little gems beholder made to start
			With meaning praise tho'they never met.
So modest, he no masters skill did claim,
	In stature small, his heart was large sincere; 
		Still, "Lights of Other Days" may make his fame,
			And praise award he seldom knew while here.
There was one Pearl, set in his constant heart; 
	His Helen too, more fair than maid of Troy - 
		Who as she sang - a Father's pride would start
			With memories that filled his soul with joy!...

Click here to view the original Poem + Art.

After Peto’s death, his wife Christine continued to live in Island Heights taking in boarders. His daughter, Helen, and then his granddaughter, Joy Smiley, ran the house and studio as a bed and breakfast. The Peto family lived in the house for more than 100 years until Joy’s death in 2002.


John F. Peto’s early work was greatly influenced by the tradition of still life painting established in Philadelphia at the beginning of the nineteenth century as well as by the early work of his friend and colleague William M. Harnett who was slightly older than him. The illusionistic paintings of Charles Willson Peale, his son Raphaelle Peale and the tabletop assemblages of John F. Francis and Severin Roesen were well known in Philadelphia and would have been familiar to him. Peto, however, following Victorian sensibilities preferred to paint mundane objects such as the daily newspaper, smoking pipes and mugs.

Although three quarters of Peto’s known works are unsigned and undated, they can be grouped and roughly dated by subject. He began painting still life tabletop groupings of newspapers and food subjects in the mid-1870′s and continued to paint these subjects with variations until the early 1890′s. Some of his more complicated compositions depicting bookshelves are dated between 1885 and 1906. Objects such as violins painted against a background of old doors or wallboards are also from that period and give the viewer a poignant sense of the passage of time. His most inventive and evocative compositions – letter rack and office board paintings – date from the late 1890′s to the early 1900′s. These show letters, cards, photos, and other ephemerae stuck through the latticework tapes of a card rack or just pinned to a board. Sometimes humorous and often highly personal, these works are notable for near abstract designs, striking patterns, textures and coloration. They can be seen as a harbinger of the same kinds of pictorial concerns explored by a later generation of modernist painters such as Pablo Picasso.

Peto’s work was neglected during his own lifetime and forgotten after his death in 1907 until the late 1940′s. Alfred Frankenstein, art critic of the San Francisco Chronicle, was researching the late nineteenth century trompe l’oeil movement and was curious about stylistic differences he noticed in some paintings signed by William Harnett. Frankenstein was able to identify about twenty paintings as works by Peto based on a comparison of style and choice of pigments. While both Peto and Harnett painted similar subjects, their styles are very different. Almost photographic in quality, Harnett’s work is noted for tight compositions, crisp brushwork, deep hues and a polished surface. Peto’s, in contrast, is more abstract with soft, painterly contours, thickly painted and textured surfaces, a concern for light effects and a bright palette. While Harnett’s paintings have an air of aloofness and control, Peto’s have a more emotional effect and–especially in his later paintings–make the viewer question the deeper meaning and motives behind the objects depicted.

Apparently, a Philadelphia based art dealer had purchased a number of Peto paintings and forged Harnett’s signature to them in order to obtain higher prices for them. Many of them ended up in the collections of major museums and private art collections. Frankensteins work, including an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in 1950 and his 1969 book, After the Hunt: William Harnett and Other American Still Life Painters, 1870-1900, brought John F. Peto and his work out of obscurity and to the attention of the art world and the public.

Today, John F. Peto is recognized as one of America’s foremost painters of trompe l’oeil still life. His works are represented in the collections of major museums throughout the country.

John F. Peto ca. 1857 Photo Provided by Archives of American Art

John F. Peto ca. 1857 Photo Provided by Archives of American Art

Thomas Hope Peto. Photo Provided by Archives of American Art

Thomas Hope Peto. Photo Provided by Archives of American Art

John F. Peto and William Harnett. Photo Provided by Archives of American Art

John F. Peto and William Harnett. Photo Provided by Archives of American Art

John F. Peto's Marriage Certificate. Photo Provided by Archives of American Art

John F. Peto’s Marriage Certificate. Photo Provided by Archives of American Art

John F. Peto's in his studio. Photo Provided by the John F. Peto Studio Museum Collection

John F. Peto’s in his studio. Photo Provided by the John F. Peto Studio Museum Collection

Still Life with Oranges and Goblet of Wine. 1880-1890s. Oil on artist's board. Photo provided by National Gallery of Art.

Still Life with Oranges and Goblet of Wine. 1880-1890s. Oil on artist’s board. Photo provided by National Gallery of Art.

The Old Violin. c. 1890. Oil on canvas. Photo provided by National Gallery of Art.

The Old Violin. c. 1890. Oil on canvas. Photo provided by National Gallery of Art.

For the Track. 1895. Oil on canvas. Photo provided by National Gallery of Art.

For the Track. 1895. Oil on canvas. Photo provided by National Gallery of Art.


Preserving the LegacyThe John F. Peto Studio Museum is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the artist, and celebrating the history of his life, family and work. Our permanent collection displays original palettes, furniture, historic photographs and more.

The John F. Peto Studio Museum is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the artist, and celebrating the history of his life, family and work. Our permanent collection displays artworks, furniture and artifacts original to the house, historic photographs and more.


The mission of the John F. Peto Studio Museum is the preservation of the John F. Peto legacy by maintaining his house and studio as a working museum, fostering educational opportunities in history and the arts, and serving as a partner in the community.


Jack O’Byrne, PhD    execdirector@petomuseum.org


  • Sally Gauntt, President
  • Judith Carluccio, Vice President
  • Lynn Pendleton, Secretary
  • Steven Doyle, Treasurer
  • Harry Bower, Curator
  • Linda Baxter, Trustee
  • Judith Carluccio, Trustee
  • Marga Reynolds, Trustee
  • Fran Halligan, Trustee
  • Peter Kier, Trustee
  • Scott Logan, Trustee
  • Jean C. Wetta, Trustee


  • Peter H. Brink, Senior Vice President Programs (Retired),
  • National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • Michael Calafati AIA, Michael Calafati, LLC


  • Joyce Kaizar, Volunteers
  • Kathy Ballas, Membership



Restoring TraditionThe John Fredrick Peto House and Studio is a pivotal (contributing) resource within the Island Heights Historic District, a New Jersey State and National Register historic District placed on the National Register in 1981.

The John Fredrick Peto House and Studio is a pivotal (contributing) resource within the Island Heights Historic District, a New Jersey State and National Register historic District placed on the National Register in 1981.

The National Register nomination states: now a museum dedicated to the renowned
American still-life artist John Frederick Peto
(who also designed much, if not all, of the house), the building is a Queen Anne structure on an irregular plan. It was built in 1890, and is 2-1/2 stories high.

The John Frederick Peto House and Studio possesses historical and architectural significance of great value to the Borough of Island Heights. It is a monument to the life and work of renowned still-life painter John Frederick Peto, often called the American Rembrandt. Peto designed the house and studio; at the start of this project they still contained some of his furniture and the artifacts depicted in his paintings. Although previously identified as being designed in the Queen Anne style, the architecture is more characteristic of the geometric and simpler Shingle Style. Although the house had been altered, it still conveys the feeling of a late nineteenth century rustic Victorian house. It is unique as an example of an artist’s home and studio, as designed by the artist, and is evocative of his art and his personality. The property is also one of only a handful of historic house museums that celebrate the life of a famous American artist. It has remained in, and been cared for, by the Peto Family for 115 years.

Click here to view the entire Peto Restoration Story

Preservation Architect: Michael Calafati Architect, LLC
P.O. Box 2363, Cape May, NJ 08204

General Contractor: Robert Frizell Builders
2820 Dover Road, Bamber Lake, NJ 08731

Landscape Architect: Barreto/Dowd Landscape Architecture
100 Old Tavern Road, Howell, NJ 07731

Historic Research: Zakalak Associates, LLC
4 Beacon Way, Suite 302, Jersey City, NJ 07304

Site Planning and Site Engineering: East Coast Engineering, Inc.
508 Main Street, Toms River, NJ 08753


Historic photograph, circa. 1900. The project undertaken in 2006 and 2007 addressed deferred maintenance and necessary repairs to the building’s exterior envelope, namely decorative woodworking, shingles, clapboard, trim, windows, and doors, and structure and will restore the building’s exterior to the appearance that the artist knew as shown in this image. Note the artist himself in the foreground.


Late 2005, The building was transformed and remodeled over time. Rooflines were altered, first and second floor rooms were extended west towards Cedar Avenue (since removed), original clapboards were covered by
aluminum siding, and an oil tank was exposed to street view.


Mid 2006, Exterior restoration work begins by replacing non-original asphalt shingles with new cedar shingles. A later two-story addition nearest Cedar Avenue was demolished to re-establish the image of the house that Peto knew.

Exhibits + Events The John F. Peto Studio Museum holds several main exhibitions each year, in addition to many other events and concert series that help enrich our community's historical and artistic lineage.

The John F. Peto Studio Museum several main exhibitions each year, in addition to many other events and concert series. View our upcoming events below!


Unpacking the Future: Important Works by Franz Jozef Ponstingl

May 12 – September 9 2018

This show encompasses paintings and assorted sketches by artist, Franz Jozef Ponstingl, a surrealist painter with trompe l’oeil style.





Just A Stone’s Throw Away: A Short Film by John Columbus


Friday, April 27, 2018, | 7:00pm

A 10 minute video about one of New Jersey’s most eminent artists of the 19th and 20th centuries, and who lived in Island Heights will be shown at the John F. Peto Studio Museum in Island Heights. Question and answer period will follow. BYO and suggest $5 donation.




2018 Peto Cup Race Celebration A-Cat Sailboat Regatta and American Barbecue

June 29, 2018

The A-Cat Sailboat Race Starts at 5:00 PM. Live Musicby the New Jersey Party Band will take place on Friday, June 29, 2018 6:00 PM to 9:30 pm at the Island Heights Yacht Club 66 River Avenue Island Heights, NJ 08732.




Become Our FriendBy becoming a supporter of the John F. Peto Studio Museum, you help bring art, music and cultural programs to our Jersey Shore community. Your donations directly contribute to our events, exhibits, and costs of maintaining the museum.

By becoming a supporter of the John F. Peto Studio Museum, you help bring art, music and cultural programs to our Jersey Shore community. Your donations directly contribute to our events, exhibits, costs of maintaining the museum, to continue the legacy of this great artist in this wonderful community.



Joining the Director’s Circle offers an opportunity to become more involved with the John F. Peto Studio Museum and its most devoted supporters. Circle Members will be invited to take a closer look at the Museum’s collections and special exhibitions through the eyes of the Director and the Curators and to participate in exclusive programming and events.

All contributors will be listed on our “Wall of Fame” inside the museum. Benefactors and Corporate Friends will be acknowledged on our posters and other printed materials distributed statewide. Corporate Friends are invited to use their logos. The John F. Peto Studio Museum is a non-profit, 501-C-3 educational organization. Donations are tax deductible as allowable by law.

Membership support through the Director’s Circle is instrumental in developing and strengthening all areas of the Museum including its unique collections, outstanding changing exhibitions, and innovative educational programming.




Become a friend of the museum and enjoy these benefits:

  • Friend Of The John F. Peto Museum Wallet Card
  • Free unlimited general admission for one year
  • Invitations Friends-only exhibition viewings and receptions
  • Subscription to seasonal events calendar, and email reminders about upcoming events
  • Discounts on admissions to special programs, exhibitions receptions and events


The museum holds exhibitions and special events throughout the year providing individuals and businesses the opportunity to sponsor activities of particular interest. To sponsor an exhibition, concert or other special event email us at info@petomuseum.org or call 732-929-4949.

Shop Amazon ! Support the Peto Museum


Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to John F Peto Studio Museum whenever you shop on AmazonSmile. Please click the image above or the link below and start shopping !  This isn’t just for the holidays, it’s all year long.

Thank You for participating and your continuing support.


The New York Times: In a Painter’s Home, Works From Local Closets

The New York Times: In a Painter’s Home, Works from Local Closets


Works by the artist John F. Peto are in the permanent collections of major museums including the Newark Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. But even locals in the small, waterfront town of Island Heights, where he lived and worked from 1889 until his death in 1907, are not always familiar with his name.

“I think the older people who have been around for a while” know of the artist, said Alice Askoff, head curator at the John F. Peto Studio Museum there. “But not everybody.”

Ms. Askoff has lived in Island Heights, population around 1,750, for 61 years; she remembers when Joy Peto Smiley, Mr. Peto’s granddaughter, operated the house where the artist kept his studio as a bed-and-breakfast. Ms. Smiley died in 2002.

Mr. Peto is known for still-life painting in the trompe l’oeil style; his works and belongings dot up to nine exhibition rooms within the 12-room house, which opened as a museum in 2011 after a two-year, $2 million restoration. Mr. Peto had the shingle-style house built the same year he moved from Philadelphia, where he was raised and where he studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

The lure of Island Heights may have been its natural beauty. However, his move was motivated by a job playing the cornet at the town’s Methodist camp meetings.

Island Heights, founded in 1878, was originally a religious resort. It is still a “dry” town, meaning the sale of alcohol is banned. It is also an artists’ colony, “a true haven,” Ms. Askoff said.

“There’s something about the light here and the sand and the water,” she said.

Mr. Peto, though, focused on indoor vistas in his work. He was particularly drawn to everyday objects and eventually was celebrated for his ability to trick the eye with his realistic images. In the 1950s, it was discovered that signatures on his work were sometimes painted over and the works passed off as originals by his better-known Philadelphia contemporary William M. Harnett.

“They had a little bit of a different style of painting, but at one point in the ’50s, a Rockefeller let it be known” that he had inadvertently bought a Peto instead of a Harnett, Ms. Askoff said, adding, “So Peto began to be rediscovered after that.” The artist had “another resurgence” in the early 1980s, with an exhibition of his work at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, she said.

There are three paintings by Mr. Peto in the museum’s permanent collection, all donated by local patrons. And though Ms. Askoff has borrowed art from galleries for each exhibition, the bulk of the works by Mr. Peto displayed by the museum have come from local private collections.

Many of them have been “hidden away in the back of Island Heights closets,” Ms. Askoff said. The furniture in the two-and-a-half-story house, painted inside and out in vivid Victorian-era colors, never left the premises, though. When the Peter R. and Cynthia K. Kellogg Foundation bought the Peto residence in 2005 and paid for its restoration, many of Mr. Peto’s artifacts were still inside.

Mr. Kellogg had the history of the house researched, “and he saved it” from a developer who planned to tear it down, according to Donald Roberts, a trustee who led a visitor on a recent tour, along with Ms. Askoff. “All the furniture was in the house when Joy died. It was extraordinarily cluttered,” Mr. Roberts said.

Photographs helped determine which pieces were in the house when Mr. Peto lived and worked there, and where they were positioned. Now, the Peto Museum displays several still lifes of household objects he painted alongside the actual items that inspired them. And the items have been restored, as closely as possible, to their 1890s-era settings.

Temporary exhibitions range beyond Mr. Peto’s work to encompass that of other artists. To assemble “Island Heights and Beyond: The Artists’ Colony,” a new exhibition scheduled to open this weekend and run through Aug. 25 at the museum, Ms. Askoff did a lot of “shaking the tree,” as she called it.

“You start looking around, unearthing things, and next thing you know, there are all these connections. You never know what you’re going to find next,” said Ms. Askoff, who is also vice president and chairwoman of the museum’s arts committee. “Island Heights and Beyond,” a multimedia show, will include the paintings by Mr. Peto from the permanent collection, along with more than 70 works culled from about 30 artists who worked, or continue to work, in Island Heights or in nearby towns.

“Sylvia” and “Sketch of Sylvia,” a pair of 1909 portraits by the local artist Carl Buergerniss, who died in the 1950s, for example, are among the works that will be on exhibit. “Sylvia,” a small painting of a young girl, was borrowed from an Island Heights resident. “Sketch of Sylvia,” a smaller, rougher portrait of the same girl, was lent by a different island family. The owners of the two Buergerniss works know each other, but neither knew the other owned a “Sylvia,” Ms. Askoff said.

In addition to collectors, Ms. Askoff’s tree-shaking for the new exhibition extended to the artists.

A small upstairs room is dedicated to artists’ responses to Hurricane Sandy. Island Heights was hit hard by the storm, Ms. Askoff said. The museum was not damaged, but it closed from November until May 4 “to regroup,” she said; normally it would close in January and February only.

During much of that closing, a local resident displaced by the hurricane lived on-site. “We had space for someone, so we wanted to offer it,” Ms. Askoff said. “We have a lot of friends here.”

Without them, Mr. Roberts and Ms. Askoff acknowledged, the Peto Museum would not have many trees to shake, and the paintings it prides itself on presenting would not have materialized.

“Finding works that have been handed down, that all of a sudden show up, is the most exciting thing,” Mr. Roberts said.

“Island Heights and Beyond: The Artists Colony,” through Aug. 25 at the John F. Peto Studio Museum, 102 Cedar Avenue, Island Heights. Open Saturdays and Sundays 1 to 4 p.m. and by appointment. Information: (732) 929-4949 or petomuseum.org.


Celebrating National Preservation Month

John F.Peto Studio Museum Celebrates National Preservation Month

April 30, 2012 | PRESS RELEASE

ISLAND HEIGHTS, NJ April 24th 2012. Get a front row seat and learn the fascinating inside story of the restoration of the John F. Peto House, on May 24, 2012, at 102 Cedar Avenue, Island Heights, NJ, at 7PM from awarding winning architect, Michael Calafati. Mr. Calafati, principal architect of the restoration project, will help the John F. Peto Studio Museum celebrate National Preservation Month by presenting an illustrated lecture  entitled, The John F. Peto House and Studio: The Restoration Story. The home built in 1889 by the renowned 19th century American still life painter, John Frederick Peto (1854-1904) located in historic Island Heights, remained in the Peto family for over 115 years until it was purchased and restored by a private benefactor. The magnificent restoration, an intensive three year project, received much critical acclaim including the 2010 New Jersey Preservation Award. The home opened as the John F. Peto Studio Museum in May 2011 as a historic house museum documenting the aesthetics, work habits and lifestyle of an important American artist with all original furnishings, artifacts and paintings.

Mr. Calafati, principal of Michael Calafati Architect, LLC, Cape May, NJ, who also serves as the Chair of AIA-New Jersey’s Historic Resources Committee, and is a Past President of Preservation NJ, has a life-long commitment to historic preservation. The lecture will highlight the property’s restoration process through the use of photographic evidence, documentary sources, building “archeology” and conservation.

In addition, guests will have the special opportunity to view the current exhibition, The Art of the Sail: Marine Paintings and Artifacts from the Bay and Beyond following the lecture.

General Admission: $20; Friends Admission $15; Students $10

For more information email info@petomuseum.org or call 732-929-2929.


Artist Abbey Ryan Visits the Peto Museum

Artist Abbey Ryan Visits the Peto Museum

August 12, 2011 | Written by Abbey Ryan

I’ve been doing a lot of traveling this summer (Upstate NY, Westchester County NY, NYC, Eastern Long Island, Maine, the Jersey Shore), and I am getting ready to leave for my workshop in Arizona at Sedona Arts Center (which begins on Monday!). With all my travels (and no laptop), I’ve got many paintings ready to be posted to my blog — and I have lots of experiences to share.

Last week, I visited the remarkable John F. Peto Studio Museum in Island Heights, NJ. This year, I’ve been doing some reading about American painting, and earlier this year became re-acquainted with John Frederick Peto (1854-1907), “an important late nineteenth-century figure in the trompe l’oeil school of American still life painting,” who also happened to be born in Philadelphia. (!) The John F. Peto Studio Museum features the home and studio of Peto.

Coincidentally, this summer I was lucky enough to get to know a fellow Art in the Open artist, who just happens to be one of the amazing folks taking care of restoring Peto’s Studio in nearby New Jersey. So, along with the generosity of one of my amazing high school art teachers, I was fortunate to be taken on a private tour of Peto’s studio and home.

It was incredible, to say the least! I got to walk through Peto’s home, see much of his original furniture, spend time in his studio, study the light cascading through his north-facing windows, and see his brushes and still life objects up close! I don’t even know which was my favorite part because it was all so memorable.

The Island Heights community is doing a phenomenal job with the Museum, and if you are looking to make any donations this year, I highly recommend you consider giving to the Peto Studio Museum (it’s a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization – all donations are tax deductible). Anyway, I was lucky enough to see the actual objects pictured in the painting to the right — and they were set up just as they are in the painting. I can’t wait to go back and visit!

Visit her blog and read the original article here.


Letter to the Editor from Freeholder Vicari

Letter to the Editor from Freeholder Vicari

July 4, 2011

Recently I had the privilege to serve as honorary chairman for the opening of the John F. Peto Museum in Island Heights. Located at 102 Cedar Avenue, the restored home of the renowned American still-life painter is not only a tribute to Peto, but is a new cultural center in Ocean County.

Visitors will find the home restored to its original 19th century glory. Guests will visit Peto’s personal studio, where he worked from 1890 to 1907, and marvel at the century-old artifacts and furnishings that actually adorned the home when the artist lived there.It was a real pleasure to meet Joanne Moy and the members of the board of trustees along with other volunteers who have brought the Peto home and studio back to life. I thank them all for their important contribution in preserving the county’s rich history.  I also want to thank Tim Hart and the Ocean County Cultural and Heritage Commission for their efforts to preserve this historical structure. In 2009 the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders honored the project with an Ocean County Preservation Award for the most ambitious private restoration of a private home in the county’s history.I encourage everyone to visit the Peto museum and enjoy both the history inside, and the beautiful riverfront outside that has inspired artists, and will continued to inspire for generations to come.
Joseph H. Vicari
Freeholder Director



Home of Little-Known Artist John F. Peto Opens as Island Heights Museum

Home of Little-Known Artist John F. Peto Opens as Island Heights Museum

June 18, 2011

By Laura Martin, Asbury Park Press

Today the average John F. Peto painting sells for between $50,000-$75,000 per piece. Yet the American still-life artist was virtually unknown when he died in 1907.

“He painted for his own pleasure and to pay the bills; he wasn’t trying to be famous,” says Island Heights resident Alice Askoff.

Peto began to gain recognition in the 1940s when it was discovered that many William Harnett paintings — which were more popular and more valuable than Peto’s — were actually Peto paintings that had been forged to appear as Harnett’s pieces, according to Askoff. That revelation skyrocketed Peto’s work, and today it can be found in some of the most respected art institutions in the world.

Still, many of the residents of New Jersey and even Island Heights — a place Peto called home for the last 18 years of his life — aren’t familiar with the painter.

“It is astonishing how many people don’t know who he was,” Askoff says.

Hoping to change that, Askoff, along with a small group of other Island Heights residents, formed a nonprofit organization and opened the The John F. Peto Studio Museum at 102 Cedar Ave., Island Heights, on May 29, after more than three years of planning and restoration.

Click here to read the rest of the article


Джон Ф. Пето Studio Museum Торжественное открытие гала

John F. Peto Studio Museum Grand Opening Gala

May 29, 2011

On May 29th, The John F. Peto Studio Museum will hold a Grand Opening Gala to celebrate the opening of the Studio Museum.

Update: Thank you to everyone for making the Grand Opening Gala a huge success!  Nearly 250 guests attended to celebrate the the opening.