Peter Hurd was one of the first well known artists to actually be born in New Mexico. His father, a New York lawyer, had moved to Roswell, New Mexico for health reasons. Hurd, whose parents named him Harold but nicknamed him ‘Pete”, later had his name legally changed to Peter.
His high school years were spent at the New Mexico Military Institute. With acceptance to the United States Military Academy, it looked like he was headed for a career as a military officer. However, he became disillusioned by the harshness of military life at the Academy. He was also much attracted to art. So after two years, he resigned from West Point in good standing and transferred to Haverford College to study liberal arts and, especially, painting.
In 1923 he visited N.C. Wyeth, an illustrator of childrens’ books and father of Andrew Wyeth and Henriette Wyeth. A year later, he became an apprentice of N.C. Wyeth whose influence strengthened Hurd’s sense of realism. During the course of his time with the Wyeths in Pennsylvania, he fell in love with Henriette and they were married in 1929.
In the 1930’s he began experimenting with egg tempera and did a commissioned mural in this medium for the New Mexico Military Institute. His love for the light and landscape of New Mexico was strong enough for him to convince Henriette to leave the East and move to a ranch 50 miles from Roswell where they set up studios. The arid climate of New Mexico is well expressed in the chalky, dry, egg tempera paintings for which he is famous and can be seen as well in his black and white lithographs
For Hurd, the military came back into his art life when he served as a war correspondent during 1942- 45 for Life magazine, winning many awards for his illustration work.
In addition to his success with landscape, Hurd was a sought-after portrait painter. His most famous commission was a portrait of President Lyndon B. Johnson who refused to pose more than one time; Hurd was forced to use photographs of Johnson to complete the painting. Johnson rejected the realistic portrait, saying it was the ugliest thing he had ever seen. But it was ultimately purchased by the Smithsonian Institution where it hangs in the National Portrait Gallery.
A partial list of museums where his work can be found include: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, El Paso Museum of Art, Corcoran Gallery, Museum of New Mexico, DeYoung Museum, Art Institute of Chicago.
“Windmill Well at Night”
signed in the stone
image size 8″ x 10 1/2″
archivally matted and framed
framed size 14″ x 17″
Dated 1935 -36 according to the Dallas Museum of Art which also has a copy of this print.