"Grace de Coeur..." Watercolors by Josephine Nivison Hopper from the Sanborn Collection
April 19-June 15, 2015
Curator: Elizabeth Thompson Colleary
Josephine Nivison Hopper (1883-1968) was an established and respected artist in New York City prior to her marriage in 1924 to Edward Hopper (1882-1967), a childless union that would endure for 43 years. Her paintings were shown in prestigious exhibitions with the most admired European and American Modernists of the day, among them Marsden Hartley, John Marin, Stuart Davis, and Pablo Picasso.
Late in her life she gave the watercolors included in this exhibition to her friend and confidant, Rev. Arthayer Sanborn, for safekeeping and in gratitude for his kindness in caring for her and for Edward toward the end of their lives. At the time, despite her travails and setbacks as a devoted wife, and by then an overlooked artist, she retained her cheerful persona. Indeed, in looking back on her work, Jo, who, like her husband was a lifelong Francophile, described her works as “sacred relics of a grace de coeur (grace of heart)…they have a certain innocence et noble orgueil (and noble pride).”
The discovery in 2000 of the trove of watercolors, journals, and personal papers that Rev. Sanborn had kept for more than thirty years lead to the discovery of more works by Jo at the Whitney Museum of American Art and for the first time it was possible to reconstruct her creative life as a dynamic artist in her own right. In the ensuing years, more works by Jo have surfaced and have been exhibited, and the importance of her role as a painting companion and muse in her two-artist marriage is finally coming to the fore.
As an accomplished artist who eagerly embraced the most current Modernist styles of the day, much more so than her husband did, Jo captured in her vibrant and lyrical watercolors favored objects and sunny views of the scenic locales that she and Edward often painted side by side. They truly express her “grace of heart” and happily, due to the efforts of her friend, Rev. Sanborn, they have come down to us so that Jo’s artistic legacy can now be appreciated, studied, and fully recognized.
Special thanks to the exhibition sponsors: ARTWILL; Jo and Peter Baer; Kris
Burns of Festoon on Hudson; Connie Coker, CNM LM, Integral Women's Wellness; Mary Ekmalian; Maria Luisa Boutique; Gretchen Reinheimer Design, LLC; and Donna Riley.
Josephine Nivison Hopper: Tree Studies
April 13 - October 19, 2014
in the Sanborn Gallery
Curated by Elizabeth Thompson Colleary
Early in her career, while studying with American Impressionist Ambrose Webster in Provincetown, MA, Josephine Nivison Hopper began to paint en plein air (outdoors), as the French Impressionists had. It was a practice she continued throughout her life, often with her husband, Edward, painting by her side. The Sanborn Collection has preserved an important body of these plein air watercolors, and they are presented in the Sanborn Gallery at the Edward Hopper House from April 19 through October 19, 2014.
This series of tree studies, with their rich colors and fluid brushwork, show Jo Hopper at her best. Jo wrote about her painting process as she worked on her tree studies and "bonded" with her subjects, often naming specific trees as she described their attributes and characters. These ruminations by Jo will provide new insights into her work and her contributions to the focus on process that was so key to the development of American Modernism.