Focus on the Peck Collection: John Constable and the Dutch Landscape Tradition

July 23, 2021 - October 17, 2021

A black and white drawing of a river scene with boats and some buildings on the shore.

Seventeenth-century Dutch landscapes, with their emphasis on vivid naturalism, have captivated the imaginations of British artists for centuries. This Focus on the Peck Collection installation highlights the work of two artists separated by some 200 years: Dutch artist Jan van Goyen (1596-1656) and English artist John Constable (1776-1837). When shown together, numerous parallels emerge between their work, including their working method, their choice of subject matter, and their use of light and dark to create dramatic atmospheric effects, revealing a dynamic conversation across the centuries.


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.

Focus on the Peck Collection installations


About Sheldon and Leena Peck

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.


Resource Links
Podcast – “Well Said: The Peck Collection”
Video – A Transformational Gift of Art
Video – “The Art and Science of Collecting the Old Masters,” A Talk by Dr. Sheldon Peck, UNC-Chapel Hill, 21 May 2017
UNC Press Release – Gift of The Peck Collection
Legacy Website – Images and Scholarly Information on a Portion of The Peck Collection
Complete Illustrated List of Works in The Peck Collection at the Ackland

Image credit: Jan van Goyen, Dutch, 1596-1656, River scene with boats near a jetty by a tavern, 1653, Black chalk and gray wash on paper, sheet: 4 3/4 x 7 15/16 in. (12 x 20.2 cm). The Peck Collection, 2017.1.39.