Edward Hopper (1882-1967)
Property from the Beinecke Family, Sold to Benefit the Prospect Hill FoundationChristie’s is honored to offer Edward Hopper’s Windy Day on behalf of the Beinecke family, with proceeds benefiting The Prospect Hill Foundation.The late William S. Beinecke purchased Windy Day directly from Hopper’s dealer Frank K.M. Rehn in 1957 as a gift for his wife, Elizabeth G. Beinecke. General Counsel and later Chairman and CEO of the family business, Sperry and Hutchinson Company (S&H Green Stamps), Beinecke also led an impressive philanthropic career. He helped create the Yale School of Management and was a major benefactor and board member for several environmental causes in New York City, including the founding Chairman of the Central Park Conservancy, the Hudson River Foundation and the New York Botanical Garden.In 1959, William S. and Elizabeth G. Beinecke founded The Prospect Hill Foundation, with a mission to advance the human experience while ensuring the well-being of the earth. Over the past six decades, the Foundation has pursued this mission by making grants in four program areas: Environment, Nuclear Disarmament & Nonproliferation, Reproductive Health & Justice and Youth Justice. Mainly supporting activities in the northeastern United States, The Prospect Hill Foundation’s Environment Program has focused on coastal waters and oceans in the southern New England region, stretching from Cape Cod to the Hudson Canyon; and funding advocacy and policy reform opportunities in order to improve water quality, advance marine conservation and restore coastal habitats. As Bonnie Tocher Clause, the author of Edward Hopper in Vermont, reflects, “Beinecke’s ownership of a Hopper work that celebrates the beauty of the White River Valley seems a natural match for this vision.” (Edward Hopper in Vermont, Hanover, New Hampshire, 2012, p. 138)Looking forward, The Prospect Hill Foundation will concentrate on a new program area, building upon the justice work the Foundation has been supporting and focusing on youth. The intent is to fund intersectional and grassroots efforts that are community led and that challenge systemic racism and gender-based oppression.
Edward Hopper (1882-1967)

Windy Day

Edward Hopper (1882-1967)
Windy Day
signed 'Edward Hopper' (lower right)
watercolor on paper
image, 19 ½ x 28 in. (49.5 x 71.1 cm.); sheet, 21 x 30 in. (53.3 x 76.2 cm.)
Executed in 1938.
Frank K.M. Rehn Gallery, New York.
Mr. and Mrs. William S. Beinecke, New York, acquired from the above, 1957.
By descent to the present owners.
Artist's Record Book II, p. 51.
L. Goodrich, Edward Hopper, New York, 1971, p. 243, illustrated.
G. Levin, Edward Hopper: A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. II, New York, 1995, p. 296, no. W-327, illustrated.
G. Levin, Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography, New York, 2007, p. 305.
B.T. Clause, Edward Hopper in Vermont, Lebanon, New York, 2012, pp. 110, 112-13, 120, 138, 155, 164, 194n68, 198n8, pl. 21, illustrated.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, The Thirty-ninth Annual Philadelphia Water Color and Print Exhibition, and the Fortieth Annual Exhibition of Miniatures, November 2-December 7, 1941, no. 399, illustrated.
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, A History of American Watercolor Painting, January 27-February 25, 1942, no. 191.
Des Moines, Iowa, Des Moines Art Center, The Artist's Vision, February 27-March 23, 1952, no. 45.
Chicago, Illinois, The Arts Club of Chicago, Marsden Hartley, Edward Hopper, Walt Kuhn, John Sloan, May 8-June 15, 1956, no. 14.
Manchester, New Hampshire, The Currier Gallery of Art; Providence, Rhode Island, Rhode Island School of Design, Museum of Art; Hartford, Connecticut, Wadsworth Atheneum, Watercolors by Edward Hopper With a Selection of His Etchings, October 8, 1959-February 7, 1960, no. 32.
Middlebury, Vermont, Middlebury College, Middlebury College Museum of Art, Edward Hopper in Vermont, May 23-August 11, 2013.

Brought to you by

William Haydock
William Haydock

Lot Essay

Edward Hopper’s Windy Day demonstrates the adept handling of watercolor and keen understanding of light for which the artist’s works on paper are best known. Depicting the White River in Vermont, the present work infuses a complex composition of a winding riverbank with a breath of fresh air and a cool blue palette to fully capture the brisk atmosphere of a New England fall. At the same time, the wind permeating the scene, the lack of life—not even a bird on the horizon—and the diminutive buildings, almost hiding in the shadows, suffuse the otherwise vibrant scene with an underlying disquiet that is distinctly Hopper. As embodied by Windy Day, Lloyd Goodrich writes, “For Hopper, watercolor has been a major medium, on a par with oil…Products of a fresh eye and a sure hand, they have a quality of utter authenticity, not only in subject-matter but in purity and freshness of visual sensation.” (Lloyd Goodrich, A Silent World: Portfolio of Eight Watercolors and Drawings by Edward Hopper, New York, 1966, n.p.)

Every summer, Edward and Jo Hopper would leave behind the urban environment of New York City to seek artistic inspiration in rural landscapes, most often in New England. The Hoppers first visited Vermont in 1927 on day trips while spending the summer in New Hampshire. They would not return until September 1935, when Hopper was desperate for a new environment after an unproductive summer in South Truro, Massachusetts. Captivated by the lush, untamed landscape and resplendent light of the area, they returned the three following years. In 1937 and 1938, the artists stayed for a full month of late summer on a farm owned by Bob and Irene Slater in South Royalton, located along the White River in the Green Mountains. According to Bonnie Tocher Clause, in total, Hopper painted no more than twenty-five watercolors, as well as a few drawings, during his seasons in Vermont. Clause explains, “The majority of Hopper’s Vermont watercolors and drawings are pure landscapes, or about as pure as Hopper ever got in painting outdoor scenes. These works focus exclusively on natural surroundings, the mountains, meadows, hillsides, woods, and watercourses in the vicinity of Vermont’s White River Valley. They are quiet paintings, inviting contemplation but not narrative.” (Edward Hopper in Vermont, Hanover, New Hampshire, 2012, p. 3)

One of the most captivating features of the Vermont landscape for Hopper was the winding bends, rippling water and lush banks of the White River, which he would depict in a series of seven watercolors from 1937-38: Gravel Bar, White River (1937, Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York, Purchase, New York); White River at Royalton (1937, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York); White River at Sharon (1937, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.); First Branch of the White River (1938, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts); Rain on River (1938, Private Collection); Landscape with Tower (1938, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York); and the present work. Hopper would reflect in a letter of January 26, 1939, “These valleys of the branches of the White River and the White River valley itself are, to me, perhaps the finest in Vermont.” (as quoted in Edward Hopper in Vermont, p. 95)

The culmination of his artistic experience in Vermont, the White River watercolors feature a wide variety of different viewpoints, which Hopper selected while driving around the area between the towns of Royalton and Sharon. Windy Day is among the most complex of the series with its perspective allowing for views onto both near and distant mountains, as well as the houses directly beside the riverbanks. Several of the other watercolors take a more frontal viewpoint, with the White River parallel to the picture plane. As such, the present work is closest in composition to the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s White River at Sharon and approaches the panorama of the Museum of Fine Art’s elevated view, First Branch of the White River.

The series also captures the full range of weather conditions Hopper experienced in late summer in Vermont, from sunny, calm days to shady afternoons and rainstorms. As Clause asserts of the present work, “In Windy Day, Hopper has succeeded in painting the wind.” (Edward Hopper in Vermont, p. 113) The blowing gusts are evident in the swaying branches of the trees and curved blades of tall grass as well as the sky where grayer storm clouds seem to move rapidly into the scene. The key focal point, however, is clearly the rushing water of the river depicted in a kaleidoscopic arrangement of blue hues. A related drawing, Shallows of the White River (1938, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York), demonstrates that Hopper determinedly sought to accurately capture the movement of the windblown waters, focusing “on the ‘texture’ of the water as it swirls and flows around rocky outcrops and boulders…In the painting, Windy Day, the different depths and currents in the river are indicated by color. The areas left blank in the drawing are painted in a clear, smooth, light blue in the watercolor; the shaded areas of the drawing are translated in the watercolor to a darker blue, mottled to show the movement of the water, ruffled by the wind.” (Edward Hopper in Vermont, p. 110)

Throughout his career, Hopper was drawn to water as a major compositional element. The draw was three-fold. First, water can act as a natural barrier between the artist (and thus the viewer) and the subject, much as the rural roads and train tracks that also recur in his works. In Windy Day, the river acts to distance the viewer from the only sign of human life in the composition—the houses, forming a natural barrier symbolic of psychological distance. Second, water allowed Hopper to introduce an element of motion into an oeuvre that is largely defined and dominated by stillness. Here, both the moving water and the sense of wind act as a foil for the more solid pictorial elements, such as the weighty boulders and angular houses. Finally, in its constant motion and expanse beyond the confines of the canvas—in its elemental presence—the inclusion of water alludes to the more existential themes that dominate Hopper's art.

Indeed, “Hopper’s fascination with the [White River] was probably both a reflection of its beauty and picturesque qualities and a manifestation of his lifelong love of the water.” (Edward Hopper in Vermont, p. 105) This transcendent series, as epitomized by Windy Day, manifests the freedom and luminosity of Hopper's finest watercolors and is superlative of the large body of career-defining work the artist produced during his summers in New England. Central to his ouevre, "New England provided Hopper with motifs which he would turn into icons of American art...New England led Hopper into the realms of light and shadow. Under the spell of the region's translucent and tonic air, he painted away to his heart's desire. His very soul, it would seem, fell in sync with the poetry and spirit of the place. If indelibly American in his art, Hopper was also thoroughly New England." (C. Little, Edward Hopper's New England, San Francisco, California, 1993, p. VI)

More from American Art

View All
View All