Josephine Nivison Hopper exhibition opens April 19

Edward Hopper House
Apr 7, 2014 9:08PM

The Edward Hopper House Art Center is offering a rare opportunity to view the work of the artist who was so inspirational to Edward Hopper throughout his career. "Grace de Coeur..." Watercolors by Josephine Nivison Hopper from the Sanborn Collection will be on view through June 19, 2013.

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.

Edward Hopper House