Peter Hunt born Frederick Lowe Schnitzer, 1896, in East Orange, New Jersey, – 1967 Cape Cod, was an American artist whose work is described as folk art or primitive art. He gained recognition for his art in the 1940s and 50’s when his decorated, refinished furniture was featured in magazines such as Life, House Beautiful and Mademoiselle.
He painted old furniture, household items, and fabrics, decorating them with colorful peasant designs, reminiscent of Pennsylvania German and French Provincial folk art. Hearts, flowers, fruits, birds, angels, and pretty maidens and their suitors adorned hutches, cabinets, dressers, tables, chairs, stools, wooden trays, fabrics, tins, and metalware. Hunt further embellished some of those pieces with pseudo-French phrases scrawled across their surfaces.
With his artistic talent, good looks, charm, wit, and knack for outrageous storytelling, Hunt wooed and delighted wealthy matrons and high-society tastemakers vacationing on Cape Cod. They found him irresistible, and his cheerful designs the perfect look for their summer cottages. Hunt’s clients were rich and influential; among them were Boston socialite Frances Brown Merkel and New York cosmetics diva Helena Rubinstein, both of whom helped advance Peter Hunt’s name and reputation.