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The Search for Peter Hunt    by Lynn C. Van Dine Amazon.com order for
Search for Peter Hunt
by Lynn C. Van Dine
Order:  USA  Can
Local History Company, 2003 (2004)
Hardcover
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Peter Hunt lied. It seemed it was as much his profession as his art. Born of impoverished immigrant parents in 1896, Frederick Schnitzer took the name of Peter Lord Templeton Hunt on the advice of W. Somerset Maugham, to re-invent himself. The Search for Peter Hunt follows the man's life from one lie to another. He started life in Jersey City and progressed through his own talent and efforts to Greenwich Village and then to Provincetown on Cape Cod. He brought folk art to a peak in the 50s and became the darling of the art world and of groupies, who wanted to be associated with a famous artist.

When his popularity began to wane, he continued to produce wonderfully vibrant decorated furniture, fabrics, and household articles enhanced with his happy designs. He designed sets and costumes and was often commissioned to decorate stores, restaurants and even Helena Rubenstein's penthouse garden. Lynn Van Dine's book tells it like it was she makes no excuses for Hunt's behavior or his lies. He was a fascinating person, charming to a fault, someone one might wish to spend time with even had he not been an artist. Van Dine takes an innovative approach that I found delightful spaced through the book are conversations she has with the artist's ghost.

Before I embarked on this intriguing biography, I had no idea who Peter Hunt was - and wasn't sure I cared. Now I feel enriched by knowing the history of the man whose designs I have seen many times and never thought to connect to a name.

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