Some of Edward Hopper’s early paintings are actually copies he made from a practical art magazine

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How the famous American artist Edward Hopper learn to paint? By copying the work of other artists from educational art magazines, it appears.

A graduate student at the Courtauld Institute in London discovered that at least four of Hopper’s early oil paintings were actually copies of works created by other artists. The paintings were previously believed to be scenes made by Hopper in his hometown of Nyack, New York.

Louis Shadwick published his findings in Burlington magazineconcluding that it is possible that “Hopper did not produce a single original oil painting until he enrolled at the New York School of Art in the fall of 1900 and did not there is no Nyack childhood oil from him.”

Shadwick made his discovery by referring to old copies of the art exchange, a popular periodical for art lovers and students in the late 19th century. An annual subscription came with 26 collectible color prints reproducing original works of art, along with instructions aimed at teaching amateur artists how to reproduce them – and it looks like the Hopper family may have been subscribed.

Edward Hopper as a child, with his sister Marion. Photo courtesy of the Sanborn-Hopper Family Archives.

Hopper’s oldest known oil painting, Rowboat in the rocky cove first oil (1895), is the double of a watercolor by an unknown artist published in the art exchange in 1891. Titled Lake view, the original work was not a view of Nyack, as has long been assumed, but of a lake in Athelstane, Wisconsin. Instructions on how to reproduce it promised readers that the painting was “a very simple subject and well suited for beginners”.

“There is therefore little mystery as to why Hopper copied it for his first attempt at oil painting; indeed his beginnings as a painter seem to have been more hesitant than previously imagined,” Shadwick wrote.

Two other Hopper paintings date back to art exchange. His first works Ships (circa 1898) is a copy after A sailor (1880) by the American painter Edward Moranreproduced in the magazine with mode d’emploi in August 1886.

Edward Hopper, <em>Boat in a rocky cove</eM> (1895).  Photo courtesy of Frick Art Reference Library, New York.  unknown artist, <em>View of the lake (‘Athelstane’)</em> (circa 1880).  (Reproduced in <em>Art Interchange</em>February 1891. Photo by Louis Shadwick.” width=”859″ height=”1024″ srcset=”https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2020/09/Screen-Shot-2020-10 -01-at-9.40.49-AM-859×1024.png 859w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2020/09/Screen-Shot-2020-10-01-at-9.40. 49-AM-252×300.png 252w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2020/09/Screen-Shot-2020-10-01-at-9.40.49-AM-42×50.png 42w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2020/09/Screen-Shot-2020-10-01-at-9.40.49-AM.png 1080w” sizes=”(max-width : 859px) 100vw, 859px”/></p>
<p id=Edward Hopper, Boat in a rocky cove (1895).
Photo courtesy of Frick Art Reference Library, New York. unknown artist, View of the lake (‘Athelstane’) (circa 1880s). Reproduced in the art exchangeFebruary 1891. Photo by Louis Shadwick.

And then there’s Hopper Old ice pond in Nyack (circa 1897). Probably painted when the artist was only 15 years old, the canvas was previously “considered one of his very rare undoubted oil representations of the Nyack of his youth and one of his first signed paintings”, wrote Shadwick.

In reality, the work is a replica of winter sunset by Bruce Crane, an American tonalist painter. “Crane was nearing the peak of his popularity when the reproduction was published,” in 1890, Shadwick noted.

Hopper also seems to have copied another early work, Church and landscapewhile Shadwick discovered a Victorian porcelain plaque depicting the same scene during his research.

“Although its precise source remains unknown,” he wrote, “it certainly does not represent ‘a snow-covered Nyack Baptist Church,’ as has been claimed.”

Edward Hopper, <em>Church and Landscape</em> (c. 1897) and a Victorian porcelain tray featuring the same composition, by an unknown artist.  Photo courtesy of Josephine N. Hopper’s heirs/licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY.” width=”1024″ height=”361″ srcset=”https://news.artnet.com/ app/news-upload/2020/09/hopper-church-1024×361.jpg 1024w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2020/09/hopper-church-300×106.jpg 300w, https: //news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2020/09/hopper-church-50×18.jpg 50w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2020/09/hopper-church .jpg 1418w” sizes=”(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px”/></p>
<p id=Edward Hopper, Church and Landscape (circa 1897) and a Victorian porcelain tray featuring the same composition, by an unknown artist. Photo courtesy of Josephine N. Hopper’s heirs/licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY.

The origins of the first Hopper canvases Countryside road and Clipper ship being towed by a tug are still unknown, but they “must be viewed with similar wariness,” Shadwick wrote.

His discovery “cuts through the widely held perception of Hopper as an American original,” said Kim Conaty, curator of drawings and prints at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. New York Times.

The artist’s early paintings remained in the attic of Hopper’s childhood home in Nyack, now the Edward Hopper House Museum and Study Center— until after his death and that of his older sister Marion.

Bruce Crane, A Winter Sunset reproduced in Art Interchange magazine.  Photo by Louis Shadwick.

Bruce Crane, A winter sunset reproduced in the art exchange magazine. Photo by Louis Shadwick.

The contents of the house were eventually acquired by Arthayer R. Sanborn, the preacher of the local Nyack Baptist Church, who appears to be responsible for introducing the misconception that the paintings were depictions of the Nyack landscape.

“This is a fascinating revelation, but one that does not diminish the importance of these paintings in the conversation of Hopper’s artistic journey,” Hopper House’s head storyteller, Juliana Roth, wrote of the museum. website.

“The myth of artistic genius is just that, a myth. No artist develops in a bubble, without influence, resources or access,” she added. “The young Hopper copied freely and regularly, that is to say, he learned to see.”

Edward Hopper, Old Ice Pond at Nyack (circa 1897).  Painted by Hopper as a teenager, the canvas is a copy of an earlier painting by Bruce Crane.  Courtesy of Josephine N. Hopper's Heirs/Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY.

Edward Hopper, Old ice pond in Nyack (circa 1897). Painted by Hopper as a teenager, the canvas is a copy of an earlier painting by Bruce Crane. Courtesy of Josephine N. Hopper’s Heirs/Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY.

One of the first Hoppers in question, Old ice pond in Nyackis currently sold by Heather James fine art, who valued the job between $300,000 and $400,000. James did not respond to inquiries from Artnet News about whether the painting’s value might be affected by the new revelations.

Hopper’s work has sold for as much as $91.9 million, with the 2018 sale of ChopSuey (1929) at Christie’s New York, after the Artnet Price Database. Crane’s record at auction, by comparison, is just $51,400, set in 2008, while Moran’s work has sold for up to $300,000, with the 2012 sale of Summer morning, New York bay.

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