Organizations* : NA
Peter Hurd was born and raised in Roswell, New Mexico, and was educated at the New Mexico Military Institute, which he attended from 1917 to 1920. From there, he attended West Point Military Academy, and was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy. However, selling a painting to a supervisor, he felt encouraged to become an artist, and he resigned his commission in 1923. Hurd then attended Haverford College in Pennsylvania for a year, but left to be a private nonpaying pupil of N.C. Wyeth. He lived in Wyeth’s barn at Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania for three years, also studying at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Art.
During this time, Hurd worked as an illustrator, working mostly with books. In 1929, he began to work in tempera on gesso-prepared panels, the medium he most frequently used up until the 1960’s, when he began to work in watercolor. That same year, he married Wyeth’s daughter Henriette, a professional painter and sister of Andrew Wyeth. The new couple went to New Mexico for an extended honeymoon. They later established their home there in San Patricio, and Henriette also became a prominent artist.
In the mid-1930s, Hurd was a mural painter, completing post-office murals in Big Springs and Dallas, Texas, and in Alamogordo, New Mexico. His paintings invoked clear images of his subject. Of one of his works, a critic stated, “An impeccable craftsmanship modeled the flanks of New Mexico hills and drew the cowboys raising dust in rodeos under a glittering June sky.” Soon Hurd was nationally recognized from a feature article done of the artist and his work in Life magazine.
As he became known as a regionalist painter, particularly recognized for his landscape, figure and genre paintings of New Mexico, Hurd focused on capturing light and atmosphere. Many of his works depict the panoramic views he saw from his beloved ranch land as well as the people with whom he was most familiar.
During WWII, Hurd was a war correspondent for Life. By 1958, his recognition had spread, and he was appointed to the President’s Commission of Fine Arts. However, his official portrait of President Johnson for the White House collection was rejected by the president, and is now in the National Portrait Gallery.