Artists have depicted the theme of sleep for centuries. The meaning of such images can be numerous depending on who sleeps, where and how they sleep, and their reasons for doing so. Using a drawing attributed to seventeenth-century Dutch artist Jacob Duck of a slumbering youth as inspiration, this Focus on the Peck Collection installation explores the ways in which artists have assigned moral judgments to people who have fallen asleep unintentionally. Ranging in date from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century, these works warn against sleep obtained through idleness and laziness, illustrating how slumbering without earning it can have detrimental effects.
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: Attributed to Jacob Duck, Dutch, c. 1600-1667, A Sleeping Youth, c. 1650-60, black chalk on paper, 4 1/2 x 7 1/16 in. (11.4 x 18 cm). Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Peck Collection, 2017.1.23.