Born in Germany, Agnes Pelton spent her early years in Holland and Switzerland. She later relocated to Brooklyn and studied at the Pratt Institute From 1895 to 1900. She studied privately with Arthur Dow in 1900 and took summer classes from William Langson Lathrop in 1907. In 1910 Pelton traveled to Italy, and continued her travels to Rome where she took drawing lessons at the British Academy. In 1913 Pelton was invited participate in the Armory Show by Walt Kuhn, where she exhibited two of her paintings.
As a guest of Mabel Dodge Luhan in Taos, New Mexico, Agnes began to visit the Southwest in 1919. The Native Americans and desert landscape inspired Peltons painting and she focused on the natural beauty and dignity inherent in real human beings. It was not until thirty years after her death that Pelton achieved national recognition for her painting. A 1995 touring retrospective exhibition, "Agnes Pelton, Poet of Nature," made wide audiences aware of her skills and historical importance. Not only was she a groundbreaking woman in an era when men dominated the profession of fine are painting, she had painted interactively utilizing a range of realistic and abstract styles. She was a pioneering American modernist whose career had several phases that reflected her wide-ranging interests, travels and ability to grow and change. Of her career, a writer for American Art News in 1931, wrote: "In the trend away from materials in general, and from literalism in art in particular, Miss Pelton is a child of new age. She is harbinger of the future for other painter poets."