"The Cup We All Race 4" is painted in the hyper-realistic style known as trompe l’oeil, which translates from the French as “fool the eye.” Zoom in closer on the wooden panel. Can you tell which parts of the panel are painted and which are real wood?
John Frederick Peto often depicted everyday objects in his paintings. This decision hindered the artist’s career during his lifetime, as many collectors preferred elevated subject matter that symbolized their wealth and social status. However, today Peto’s mixed-media works are appreciated for their humble subject matter and moralizing themes concerning materialism, success, and ambition. For example, in "The Cup We All Race 4", an aged, dented tin cup is mounted almost like a trophy—possibly an allusion to the elusive prizes man chases in the race of life.