The Artists and Vision Behind the Mural

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As the Texas State Archives and Library Building neared completion in early 1961, a vital decorative element remained undecided. The lobby was designed to accommodate a large artistic rendition of Texas history and in April 1961 Governor Price Daniel wrote to artist Peter Hurd, inviting him to attend the next State Building Commission meeting in Austin to propose ideas for the mural. Hurd, a student of prominent illustrator N.C. Wyeth, had created other murals showcasing Texas history including one at the West Texas Museum in Lubbock.

After visiting the State Archives and Library Building and presenting his impressions of an appropriate design to the commission in May 1961, Hurd requested that a scale model of the lobby be sent to him so that he could work on the composition as it would appear in the actual lobby. In January 1964, Hurd wrote to Governor Connally with photographs of the mural design and explanation of the theme.

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In 1964 Hurd wrote the State Building Commission to introduce his son-in-law, British artist Peter Rogers, as his artist associate on the project. Ideas by Rogers for the extreme left and right portions of the mural represented the earliest days of human habitation in the area that would become Texas, as well as its advancement to statehood and entry into the industrial era. While Peter Hurd turned over the final design and execution of the mural to Peter Rogers, he remained a central figure in the development of the mural's focus on Texas history, and it was his reputation as an accomplished painter and muralist that helped win the commission for the artwork.

News articles of the mural's progress noted that Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar, third president of the Republic of Texas, was not featured among the portraits of Texas leaders. Protests against this omission came from many sides, including a descendant of Lamar who wrote an impassioned letter to the State Librarian. Rogers insisted that it was his own artistic judgment to add Lamar's portrait to the mural to balance the composition, and that public sentiment did not influence him to do so. Reaction to the mural was positive, both from the State Building Commission and the Texas Library and Historical Commission, as well as the general public.

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Items on display in this exhibit

These items are displayed here in PDF format and will open in a seperate window or tab - note that several of these files contain more than one page.

“Letter from Peter Hurd to Admiral H.R. Nieman, Executive Director, State Building Commission, introducing his son-in-law, Peter Rogers, as the author of the mural design, April 21, 1964.” 1989/029-1.

"Peter Rogers with scaffolding and TSLAC lobby mural in background, summer 1964." 1989/029-1.

“Letter from Peter Rogers to Admiral H.R. Nieman, Executive Director, State Building Commission, discussing and illustrating mural design details, May 22, 1964.” 1989/029-1.

“Pen, ink and gouache sketch of TSLAC Texas history mural, without captions, spring 1964.” 1989/029-1.

“Pen, ink and gouache sketch of TSLAC Texas history mural, with captions, spring 1964.” 1989/029-1.

“Letter from Ernest Thompson to Dr. Dorman Winfrey, urging that a portrait of Mirabeau B. Lamar be included in the mural, August 1964.” 1989/015-2.

“Letter from Peter Rogers to Dr. Dorman Winfrey, State Librarian, thanking all at the State Library and Archives who provided help during his work on the mural, October 14, 1964.” 1989/029-1.

“Composite color photograph of TSLAC lobby mural, taken by Bill Malone, 1968.” Prints & Photographs 1969/058-1.

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Page last modified: April 17, 2014