Margot Peet

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Marguerite Munger Peet (1903–1995) was an American painter. She did not have a far-reaching artistic reputation during her lifetime as she did not often exhibit her work in public. Her family found over 430 of her paintings after her death, and she has been the subject of three major retrospectives in the last 15 years. Her most significant work was created under the tutelage of famed American Regionalist painter Thomas Hart Benton.

Early life[edit]

Margot Peet was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1903, and grew up in a prosperous merchant family that encouraged her interest in art. Her father, Williston Penfield Munger, was the owner of a local wholesale dry goods company. She attended The Barstow School, an exclusive school for girls in Kansas City. After graduation she attended Emma B. Hopkins French finishing school in New York City, where she received her first formal art training.

Margot Munger returned to Kansas City in 1922, and in 1924, she married Herbert O. Peet, a Princeton graduate whose family owned Peet Brothers' Company, the largest soap company west of the Mississippi River. The couple had two daughters, Marguerite, born in 1925, and Jeannette in 1931.

Painting career[edit]

Peet began intermittent studies at the Kansas City Art Institute in the 1920s. Her maternal aunt, Ruth Harris Bohan, was an accomplished oil painter who became an early role model. In the fall of 1935, when she was married with two small children at home, Peet enrolled in painting classes taught by the famous Regionalist painter, Thomas Hart Benton at the Art Institute. Under Benton's guidance, she produced her first multi-figural compositions, her first genre scenes, and her first paintings in egg tempera, a quick-drying medium using egg yolk as the binder. Benton painted in class alongside his students who produced "versions" of his subjects from slightly different angles. In 1939, Margot Peet painted a small version of Benton's iconic allegorical nude, Persephone, which is now one of the highlights of the American painting collection at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. Her painting Do Unto Others is a version of Benton's well-known work, Instruction, which he painted as part of an Art Institute class in 1940. Peet's work produced during this period is now viewed as her best. Benton selected a still life painting by Peet for an exhibition of his students' work that was held at the Associated American Artists Gallery in New York City. For the remainder of her life, she continued to paint garden still lifes, flower pieces and portraits.

In 1993, some of Peet's paintings were featured in the exhibit, Under the Influence: The Students of Thomas Hart Benton, at The Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art in St. Joseph, Missouri. Since her death in 1995 and the subsequent discovery of many unknown paintings, she has been the subject of two major retrospectives: With Grace & Wit: The Paintings of Margot Peet, 1903-1995 at the Johnson County Museum of History in 1999, and Margot Munger Peet, 1903-1995, The Barstow School Exhibit, in 2004. A full length art historical biography of Peet, Discovering Margot Peet: The Artist and the Art World of Kansas City was published in 2010.

Sources[edit]

  • Discovering Margot Peet: The Artist and the Art World of Kansas City. Marianne Berardi and Henry Adams. Posterity Press. 2010
  • The Artists Bluebook. Lonnie Pierson Dunbar, editor. March 2005.
  • Under the Influence: The Students of Thomas Hart Benton. Marianne Berardi. The Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art. 1993
  • With Grace & Wit: The Paintings of Margot Peet, 1903–1995.Johnson County Museum of History. 1999.
  • Margot Munger Peet, 1903–1995, The Barstow School Exhibit. 2004
  • Davenport's Art Reference. Ray Davenport. 2005.
  • Who Was Who in American Art. Peter Hastings Falk (editor). 1999
  • Women Artists in America. Jim L. Collins. 1973
  • Who's Who in American Art. Charlotte Ball (editor). 1940.
  • Kansas City Regional Art. Associated American Artists. New York. 1940
  • "Women Artists in the Moffett Collection", American Art Review. By Cori Sherman North. February 2006
  • "Margot Peet, 1903-1995". American Art Review. By Marianne Berardi. August 1999.
  • http://www.margotpeet.com/