|Robert Henri "The Art Student: Portrait of Miss Josephine Nivison" 1905|
Milwaukee Art Museum
"She was standing in her old paint-spattered apron at the close of a lesson, with her paint brushes clutched firmly in her little fist, listening to a conversation. She seemed a little human question mark, and everything about her, every line of her dress, suggested the idea. I wanted to paint her just as she was, and I asked her to pose for me the next day.
I was afraid she couldn't assume the same pose and the same look, bit it happened that as she entered my studio she fell into the same energetic, questioning attitude. I had to paint very rapidly to get it. " (from Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography, by Gail Levin.)
|Edward Hopper "Jo Sketching at Good Harbor Beach" 1925-8 Whitney Museum|
The following year she began teaching in the NYC Public School system. She taught steadily for the next decade or so but stayed in touch with Henri and other artist friends. As a teacher, she had her summers free, and spent most of them them traveling and staying at different art colonies. She had first met met her future husband, artist Edward Hopper (1882-1967) at the New York School of Art, and then they met again in 1914 when they were both staying in the same boarding house one summer in Oqunquit, Maine.
|Edward Hopper "Jo Sketching in Wyoming" 1946 Whitney Museum|
Josephine and Edward Hopper became friends after spending time together that summer in Maine, but did not form a romantic attachment until some years later. In 1923 they were painting together in Gloucester, MA, and for some reason at that point their relationship changed. They began courting, marrying in 1924. The marriage was a close one, but apparently full of stress and struggle. Nonetheless, they remained married until Edward Hopper's death in 1967. Edward Hopper used Josephine as his model for many paintings, and often sketched her informally on their trips. She devoted herself to managing the practical side of her husband's art career and running their home. She continued to paint and exhibit, but her work received very little notice.
|Edward Hopper "Jo Painting" 1936 Whitney Museum|
Above is the one oil painting Edward Hopper did of his wife at work. As it does not truly show that she is "in the act of painting" except by the intensity of the expression and uplifted arm and the title, I wouldn't normally include it, but it fits the theme. ;-) After her husband's death, Josephine Hopper donated both their artistic estates to the Whitney Museum of American Art. However, her work has rarely been shown or even seen since that time. In fact, because her husband painted and sketched her so frequently, repeated web searches trying to find images BY Josephine Hopper turn up almost only pieces OF her. If anyone has a link to some good examples this artist's work please let me know!