Peter Hurd (February 22, 1904
– July 9, 1984) was an American artist, born Harold Hurd, Jr.,
in Roswell, New Mexico. Nicknamed “Pete” by his
parents, he later legally changed his name to Peter. He enrolled at
New Mexico Military Institute in 1918 as a high school freshman
where he began a lifelong friendship with writer Paul Horgan. He
intended to pursue a military career, and in 1921 Hurd entered the
United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. After two
years, however, he resigned from the Academy to enroll at Haverford
College in Pennsylvania, and studied Fine Arts.
Hurd soon began studying under the
illustrator N.C. Wyeth. He worked as Wyeth's assistant at Chadds Ford,
Pennsylvania, for a number of years. In 1929, he married Wyeth's
daughter, Henriette Wyeth, an artist who later became known for her
portraits and still life paintings. Hurd, himself, is known for his
realistic paintings of Western scenes and for his illustrations.
Hurd was a war correspondent for Life
magazine during World War II.
From 1953 to 1954,
Hurd, assisted by his protégés Manuel Acosta and John
Meigs as well as his wife Henriette, painted a fresco mural in the
rotunda of what was then the West Texas Museum (now Holden Hall) at
Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University) in Lubbock.
Hurd painted about one fresco per week over a two-year period, with
depictions of pioneers and influential leaders of West Texas.
In 1957, he
collaborated with Folkways Records and released his album, Spanish
Folk Songs of New Mexico, a collection of ranching songs. By 1958,
his recognition had spread, and he was appointed to the
President’s Commission of Fine Arts.
In 1967, he painted
what would have been Lyndon B. Johnson's official portrait.
President Johnson only allowed Hurd one sitting, during which time
Johnson fell asleep. Hurd hence had to use photographs of Johnson
to finish the painting. Johnson did not like his portrait,
declaring it “the ugliest thing I ever saw.” The painting is now
part of the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, in the
Smithsonian Institution. Hurd's Time Magazine cover portrait of
Charles C. Tillinghast, Jr. was featured in a National Portrait
Gallery exhibit of the magazine's cover art that opened in
Hurd died in 1984 in Roswell.