Hurd & Wyeth: Picturing the Hondo Valley, Founders Gallery
The Roswell Museum and Art Center is home to the largest public collection of works by Peter Hurd and Henriette Wyeth, painters who have both become synonymous with the landscape and culture of southeastern New Mexico.
Peter Hurd (1904-1984) was raised in Roswell where his father worked a small ranch southwest of town. Roaming the countryside as a youth on horseback, Hurd developed an intimate understanding of the region’s hills, prairies, and arroyos, experiences that profoundly shaped his artistic sensibilities.
Peter Hurd, the Dry River, 1938, Egg Tempera On Panel
Although his father hoped he would pursue a military career, Hurd ultimately chose to follow his artistic ambitions. In the 1920s, he studied personally with noted American illustrator Newell Convers Wyeth (1882-1945) in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. During the summers at Wyeth’s home, Hurd met his future wife, Henriette, the eldest of the Wyeth children. They were married in 1929, and moved permanently to their Sentinel Ranch in San Patricio, New Mexico a few years later.
Hurd is known for his brilliant egg tempera landscapes that evoke the immense sense of place we feel as we look into and beyond the hills that frame New Mexico’s Hondo Valley. His portraits capture the dignity and texture of the people who inhabit these hills. Hurd endures as a consummate painter of the southwestern landscape—capturing its silence, clarity, and light.
Henriette Wyeth (1907-1997) was one of America’s most important still life and portrait painters. An educated realist, she was deeply influenced by her artist father, N.C. Wyeth, who advised her to “Paint the light and air around the subject; paint the mystery.” According to friend and acclaimed author Paul Horgan, “He was her drillmaster in drawing, her mentor in general awareness, the source of the swift, pointed thought and the precise and acute vocabulary that…served her always as expressive means hardly less gifted than her painting.”
Henriette Wyeth, Iris, 1945, Oil On Canvas
While still living in Chadds Ford, Wyeth painted marvelous “fantasy” paintings derived directly from her imagination and linked to her love of the theater, ballet, and the “artifice” of stage light with its lyricism and drama. After transitioning from her Chadds Ford home to her new San Patricio surroundings, however, Wyeth embraced New Mexico’s light and subject matter, adroitly filling her canvases with apache plume, doves, wild flowers, iris, santos, and the faces of those loved and admired—including her children and villagers from San Patricio.
Hurd and Wyeth were both highly engaged with the Roswell Museum during their lifetimes. In honor of their involvement, the Museum’s original gallery has been named Founders Gallery and is dedicated to rotations of their work. Opened in 1937, the space retains its original Spanish Colonial Revival appearance.