Focus on the Peck Collection: Botanical Works on Paper
April 22, 2022 - July 17, 2022
During the seventeenth century, Dutch botanists, merchants, and artists turned their attention to vegetation, near and far. Intellectual hubs like the University of Leiden cultivated some of the first botanical gardens while amateur flower enthusiasts took an interest in personal horticulture.
This Focus on the Peck Collection installation celebrates the arrival of Spring through two artist’s renditions of weeds and everyday plants. These botanical works by Dutch draftsman Crispijn de Passe the Elder (c.1565-1637), alongside a much later work by French engraver Eugène-Stanislas-Alexandre Blery (1805-1887), depict familiar vegetation with uncommon vitality and detail. Together, they showcase how artists elevate ordinary, yet visually expressive plant life to unexpected prominence.
In January 2017, the Ackland Art Museum received its largest gift to date when Sheldon Peck (UNC-Chapel Hill, BS ’63, DDS ’66) and his wife Leena donated their extraordinary collection of 134 mostly 17th-century Dutch and Flemish master drawings, as well as significant funds for the stewardship of the collection, new acquisitions, and an endowed curatorial position in European and American art before 1950. At least one example from the collection is always on view at the Museum, but because these works of art on paper are light-sensitive, we rotate a select number of drawings with other objects from our permanent collection in an ongoing display called Focus on the Peck Collection. Click below to see past installations.
Sheldon Peck, a native of Durham, North Carolina, is a double alumnus of the University, receiving his undergraduate degree from Carolina in 1963 and his doctorate from the UNC School of Dentistry in 1966. He and Leena enjoyed distinguished careers as prominent orthodontic specialists and educators in the Boston area.
The Peck Collection started as a collaboration between Sheldon and his late brother Harvey and continued as a joint interest shared with Leena. The result of over 40 years of exceptional connoisseurship, scientifically rigorous analysis, and dedicated pursuit, the Peck Collection stands as an internationally significant achievement. Sadly, Leena Peck passed away in January of 2019, and Sheldon Peck in April of 2021.
Image credit: Crispijn de Passe the Elder, Dutch, ca. 1565-1637, Studies of Mallow and Nightshade, c. 1600, pen and brown ink, brown wash on paper, 4 5/8 × 7 1/2 in. (11.7 × 19 cm). Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Peck Collection, 2017.1.60.