As a youth, Alexander Pope carved and sketched animals around his home in Massachusetts. In the 1860s, he worked for his family’s lumber business. Pope studied carving, painting, perspective, and anatomy with William Rimmer, an important romantic-baroque sculptor, painter, and influential teacher of many Boston artists. From 1879 to 1883, Pope created many well-received carvings of game. Czar Alexander III of Russia acquired two of the carvings. In 1893, Pope began painting animal portraits and, later, pursued a career as a portrait painter. Eventually, he was considered one of the best Bostonian trompe l’oeil painters of the nineteenth century. The French term trompe l‘oeil means deception of the eye. Trompe l’oeil paintings appear so real that they trick the viewer into thinking they are seeing an actual scene rather than a painted one.
Pope is particularly well known for his illusionist paintings and wood carvings of birds, rabbits, and firearms hanging on slate-colored doors.