was charming, funny, outrageous and shrewd. He was a man of many talents.
Telling the truth wasnít one of them.
Thatís why it took author Lynn Van
almost a decade of research and
interviews to track down the real story of the magnetic Cape Cod artist in her
The Search for Peter Hunt (The Local History Company, 2003), now
available for pre-publication discounts on orders.
In an uncommon approach to telling the story of a most uncommon man, The
Search for Peter Hunt sorts through the legends and the facts of a life of
art, celebrity and struggle. And in the course of the book, Peter Hunt adds his
own acerbic spin.
A Cape Cod folk artist from the 1920s through the 1960s, Peter Hunt was
wildly popular across the United States for decorating furniture with whimsical
designs inspired by European peasants.
Born in a New Jersey tenement, Peter Hunt reinvented his background to
better win over wealthy New York and Boston matrons. With inexhaustible gaiety,
he told wild stories of a royal heritage and adventures around the world to
manipulate his way into New Englandís poshest circles.
His ruses worked. Peter Huntís decorated pieces made their way into the
finest homes and, soon after, they were displayed at the best department stores
in New York.
All the while, Hunt was working and playing in the midst of a cultural
upheaval in America. In his Bohemian circle sparkled famous and almost-famous
artists, actors and writers -- playwright Eugene OíNeill, novelist Somerset
Maugham, French actress Cecile Sorel,
screenwriter Colin Clements, political
writer John Reed, singer
Ganna Walska and the glamorous Helena Rubenstein.
Peter Hunt attained and maintained his high profile by
promoting his painting techniques for ďmaking old things new,Ē an idea
seized upon by women trying to keep up their households through the
Depression and World War II.
After the war, he held center
stage by publishing two books on decorating furniture and selling his
designs to mass market manufacturers of china, linens, paints, fabrics and
kept the spotlight by writing his Cape Cod Cookbook and illustrating a
teenage romance set in Peter Huntís Peasant Village, Betty Cavannaís Paintbox
But in the end, Peter Hunt was undermined by his own success. His designs so
saturated the market, collectors and discriminating buyers eventually lost
interest. His fondness for self-indulgences soon depleted his fortune. As
his money evaporated, so did many of his friends. He died alone in a tiny,
Peter Hunt climbed to the top on the strength of his charm, talent and an
endless supply of complete fabrications. He told every story but his own.
The Search for Peter
Hunt tells all the stories, real and invented in a way Peter Hunt would
The Search for Peter Hunt, please visit the web site of the publisher,
The Local History Company.
See what people are saying about "The Search for Peter Hunt"
NEWSROOM. You'll find reviews and stories from
The Midwest Book Review, The Provincetown Banner, The Cape Cod Chronicle
Also, on the
SIGHTINGS page, more readers send us their
stories and pictures about Peter Hunt.
parts mystery novel, ghost story, romance and cultural history of the
mid-20th Century, The Search for Peter Hunt is unlike any book I've
The only way to describe The Search for Peter Hunt is the
way his contemporaries described the man himself: outrageous, uproarious,
unconventional and irresistible."