The Heart of Edward Hopper’s Success


In the early 20th Century, Cape Ann served as a pivotal outlet for Edward Hopper, the renowned American artist.  Hopper’s exploration of technique and image along the north-east coastline kick-started his successful career.

Artwork from this important period of Hopper’s life will be displayed in the Cape Ann Museum until October 16.

The exhibit indeed shows a great variety of Hopper’s work, but more prominent is the storyline that flows through the collection, notably the inclusion of his wife, muse, and agent, Josephine “Jo” Nivison Hopper.

Before Edward reached his fame, Jo was already an established artist. Her work was displayed in museums in New York City, and she had a teaching degree in art from what is now Hunter College in New York.

According to her journals, the two met in the hallways of the New York School of Art.  Their “meet-cute” consisted of Edward stretching a canvas for Jo. 

After spending time together, traveling, and sharing their passion for art, the two married July 9, 1924 both in their early 40s.  Though it was surely out of love, their marriage was a result of an ultimatum.  Jo proposed that she would only go back to Gloucester, instead of Provincetown, with Edward if he married her that day, and that he did.

In Gloucester, Edward found what he had been struggling with his entire artistic career.  He transformed as an artist, and so, was keen on returning in 1924.  Jo, with her teacher instincts, encouraged Edward to transition to more water-color use, and he was thus able to produce more work quicker.

After seeing this, Jo, who already had her paintings lined up for an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum advocated for Edward and his new Cape Ann artwork to be displayed as well.  There he sold his work and received reviews that would change his career for the best.

Jo’s career, however, now faded to the background.  She slowed down her painting, and continued to support Edward as a wife, muse, and producer.

When Edward passed, Jo ensured that all his work, and hers as well, would be donated to the Whitney Museum in New York.  This was, and still is, the greatest amount of work by an American artist donated to an American museum.  Jo jump-started Edward’s career, and ensured that his legacy would never die.

Without Jo, and all she gifted to Edward Hopper, and thus also America, this exhibit would certainly not have been possible, and throughout the beautiful display this is evident.

At the center of the exhibit is a section specifically dedicated to Jo and her story, proving that she is the heart of Edward Hopper’s success.

pai, room in new york, edward hopper, new york city, artist, jo, new york, provincetown, america, josephine nivison hopper, cape, cape ann museum, teacher, whitney museum, hunter college, brooklyn museum