Signed and dated at lower left: "Jacob Atkinson/91"
Jacob Atkinson was a Philadelphia letter carrier who painted more as a hobby than a profession choosing to depict still life subjects of mail and money. Ten Dollar Bill and a Soldier’s Letter is only one of two known works by Atkinson. It exemplifies the illusionism of trompe l’oeil (French for “Fool-the-eye”) paintings, using oil on canvas to create the effect of wood grain or paper. This kind of still life subject was popular and created by several nineteenth century artists working in Philadelphia, including William Harnett, John Peto, and several members of the Peale family. This piece was formerly part of the Richard and Jane Manoogian collection, one of the most significant private collections of American art compiled during the 20th century.
Atkinson’s only other identified work, Souvenir of the Columbian Exposition, resides at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
The letter in this painting, to Benjamin Atkinson, postmarked April 10th from Norfolk Virginia appears to be written to the artist’s father immediately after General Lee surrendered himself and his army to the 11th PA cavalry company H on April 9th.
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