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My Dear Mr. Hopperby Alta Hilsdale
Synopses & Reviews
Edward Hopper (1882andndash;1967), long recognized as the premier 20th-century American realist painter, was famously introverted and reclusive. He rarely spoke about his personal life, and his close friends were few and love interests fewer. Until now, there have been only two known romantic pursuits prior to Hopperandrsquo;s marriage to Josephine Nivison in 1924: a brief relationship in Paris with an English girl in 1906andndash;7 and another spanning several years with an older French woman beginning in New York in 1915.
The discovery of fifty-eight previously unknown letters and one note from Alta Hilsdale (1884andndash;1948) to Hopper brings to light a previously unknown romantic relationship. Hilsdale, who was from Minnesota and spent time in New York and Paris, sent letters to Hopper at various home and studio addresses during the course of ten years. Reverend Arthayer Sanborn, a close friend of Edward and Josephine Hopper, discovered the letters in Hopperandrsquo;s childhood home in Nyack, New York, after the artistandrsquo;s death. Fewer than ten people have had the opportunity to read these letters, and they are published in their entirety for the first time in My Dear Mr. Hopper.
"This cache of letters written to the famously reclusive realist painter Edward Hopper reveals a surprisingly tender and needy side to the emotionally inscrutable artist. The 58 letters all come from Alta Hilsdale, a friend and romantic interest of Hopper's, and date from 1904 to 1914. The period was a formative one in Hopper's artistic career, although clear insights into his work are found wanting — while some missives reference landscapes and vacation spots that featured in Hopper's paintings, any overt references to his art practices are fleeting and vague. Instead, laid bare is a shadow version of Hopper wrapped up in his own desires and his affection for Hilsdale. In letter after brief letter, she does little more than cancel plans, turn down his offers for dinner, and scold him for his neediness (she does, of course, accept invitations to the opera or to dinner occasionally). Although repetitive, the letters take on an evanescent quality of want and desire, and Hilsdale's revelation of marriage in the final notes is surprisingly gut-wrenching. None of the letters from Hopper are extant, but Hilsdale's pithy words still manage to illuminate a previously unknown aspect of this important artist's interior life. Color illus. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Recently discovered correspondence between Hopper and a romantic interest reveals new information about the artistand#8217;s personal life and encourages a reconsideration of the art he produced from 1904 to 1914.
About the Author
Elizabeth Thompson Colleary is an independent scholar.
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