Peter Hurd was born in Roswell, New Mexico in 1904. He travelled to the East Coast to attend West Point Academy in 1921 but chose to pursue a career in art under the tutelage of N.C. Wyeth two years later. He studied with the nationally famous muralist and illustrator for the next ten years and then returned to New Mexico where his true artistic style was to develop.
The artists well-loved depictions of the American southwest rendered in egg tempera, watercolor and lithography hang in the Pentagon, the US Postal Service and the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery among others.
The artists love of the southwest did not stop him from traveling the world. During the 1940s he worked for LIFE magazine as an illustrative war correspondent and was awarded the European Theater Medal for Service Overseas in 1947. After WWII he continued his travels abroad, sketching and painting the locales he visited in Asia and Africa.
In 1959 Hurd was appointed to the Commission on Fine Arts by President Dwight Eisenhower and in 1966 invited to paint the portrait of President Lyndon B. Johnson. Famously, President Johnson rejected the portrait claiming it was "the ugliest thing" he had ever seen. Hurd not only defended the artwork but exhibited it at the Diamond M Museum in Snyder, Texas, to the largest crowd the museum had ever seen. The debacle generated much media attention thus solidifying his fame in American consciousness. After exhibiting the painting, Peter donated it to the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery where it hangs today.
In addition to painting, Peter Hurd was committed to soil and land conservation, publishing magazine articles on those subjects in addition to art during his more than four decades long career. He lived in San Patricio, New Mexico on his ranch; Sentinel Ranch where he continued to paint passionately until his death in 1984.