Peter Hurd (1904-1984), American painter, husband of
painter Henriette Wyeth, and protege of N.C. Wyeth.
Hurd was born in Roswell, New Mexico in 1904, and was educated at West Point
military academy, which he eventually left to take up painting as a
profession. Hurd was an apprentice of N.C. Wyeth in the early 1920's,
studying with the elder Wyeth at his home in Chadd's Ford, Pennsylvania.
It was there that Hurd met (and married, in 1929) Wyeth's daughter
The styles of Peter Hurd and Andrew Wyeth are quite similar. Hurd's
landscapes of New Mexico evoked the spirit of the place much as Andrew's
landscapes of Pennsylvania did the same. Hurd is also credited with
introducing Andrew Wyeth (and later N.C.) to egg tempera paints - handmade
paint which uses egg yolk and water to bind pigment, rather than oil. Andrew
eventually became a master of the tempera medium.
Hurd and Wyeth spent most of their life in Hurd's native New Mexico on a
ranch in San Patricio, about 50 miles west of Roswell, bordering the
Lincoln National Forest. Many of his
landscapes and portraits are of New Mexico and its inhabitants, including
the lovely Eve of St. John, a painting of the niece of his ranch hand
José, whom he also painted. Hurd had an excellent eye for color, and captured
the beauty of the New Mexico sky and landscape quite well.
Interestingly, Hurd was commissioned to paint the official portrait of
(then) President Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1967. However,
Johnson hated the painting, calling it "the ugliest thing [he] ever
saw!" It depicts Johnson standing on the roof of a building (I assume the
White House) holding a book at sunset, with the dome of the Capitol glowing
in the background. Apparently it became a joke in Washington, where
"artists could be seen, but not Hurd." The painting was instead given to
the Smithsonian Institution by Hurd, and now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.
Like much of the Wyeth family art, many of his works have been reproduced,
and should be easy to find. The Wyeth-Hurd Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico
(not far from the plaza) showcases many of his (and the Wyeth's) works. It's
worth a stop (along with, of course, the O'Keeffe Museum)
when you're in Santa Fe.
Sources: various, including www.wyethhurd.com, www.npg.si.edu, and my
meanderings through both New Mexico and the Chadd's Ford, PA region of the
Delaware Valley (particularly the Brandywine River Museum).