John Frederick Peto was born in 1856 in Philadelphia. His father was a gilder and picture framer, and it seems likely that the son would have seen a variety of art in his father’s frame shop. He studied briefly at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and exhibited there intermittently over several years, but he is not known to have had any other formal training. He moved to Island Heights, New Jersey, in 1889, where he made his living playing the cornet—an instrument similar to a trumpet—professionally, as well as continuing to paint. His works were often purchased by local merchants and hung in their shops or taverns; Peto would sometimes customize the painting by adding the likeness of the buyer. His still lifes were often unsigned, and combined with his location outside the art circles of major cities, his renown as an artist remained mostly local. He died in 1907.