Focus on the Peck Collection: Susanna and the Elders

January 25, 2019 - April 21, 2019

Drawing of Susanna and the Elders

The Old Testament apocryphal story of Susanna and the Elders has captivated artists for centuries. In it, a virtuous woman prevails and good triumphs over evil. This installation from the Peck Collection features Willem van Mieris’ beautifully executed Susanna and the Elders drawing alongside two contrasting depictions of the theme, also from the permanent collection. Ranging from the sixteenth to the twentieth century, the Italian, Dutch, and Austrian versions differ in media, technique, and compositional framework, as well as in the level of psychological and physical turmoil depicted.



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: Willem van Mieris, Dutch, 1662–1747, Susanna and the Elders, c. 1700, black chalk on vellum, 12 5/16 × 9 13/16 in. (31.3 × 25 cm). Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Peck Collection, 2017.1.54.