Henriette Wyeth Hurd (1907-1997) Biography

Henriette Wyeth Hurd (1907-1997) Biography

Henriette Wyeth Hurd is considered one of the most important American woman painters of the twentieth century.

Wyeth Hurd was the eldest child of the renowned illustrator N.C. Wyeth, and sister to painter Andrew Wyeth.  She began studying art with her father at age eleven despite a crippled right hand, the result of childhood polio.  Henriette enrolled in the Normal Art School in Boston at age thirteen and later attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.  By her late teens she was locally known as an excellent portrait artist and began receiving commissions. 

While studying in Philadelphia, she became interested in theater and was fascinated by the way lighting created mystery and drama on the stage.  The experience both reinforced the lessons taught by her father and informed her painting for the rest of her life.

After her schooling, Henriette returned to her father's studio at the family home in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania where she continued tutorials while developing her career.  In 1924 the young painter, Peter Hurd, arrived for private study with N.C. Wyeth.  Peter and Henriette began a quiet courtship that became increasing apparent to the family, and they were married in 1929.

In 1934 the couple moved to Peter's home territory of southeastern New Mexico and purchased a property called Sentinel Ranch where they lived the rest of their lives, and where their son, Michael Hurd, continues the family painting tradition.

Wyeth Hurd at first had a difficult time adjusting to the climate and culture of New Mexico, but she grew to love both and gradually allowed them to influence her art.  It was in New Mexico that she fully matured in her work, developing a national reputation for portraits that revealed the sitter's personality and character, and for still life images that are evoke they mystery she felt existed in all things. 

Among her notable portrait commissions were actresses Helen Hayes and Paulette Goddard, First Lady Patricia Nixon, Mrs. John D. Rockefeller III, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Paul Horgan.

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