EDWARD HOPPER (1882-1967)
EDWARD HOPPER (1882-1967)
EDWARD HOPPER (1882-1967)
EDWARD HOPPER (1882-1967)
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Property from the Trustees of Phillips Academy and the Estate of Noelle Blackmer Beatty
EDWARD HOPPER (1882-1967)

Four Dead Trees

EDWARD HOPPER (1882-1967)
Four Dead Trees
signed ‘Edward Hopper’ (lower right)
watercolor and pencil on paper
20 x 28 in. (50.8 x 71.1 cm.)
Executed in 1942.
Frank K.M. Rehn Gallery, New York.
Trustees of Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, acquired from the above, 1944.
Dr. Claude M. Fuess, Andover, Massachusetts, acquired from the above, 1948.
Alan and Josephine Blackmer, Andover, Massachusetts, bequest from the above, 1963.
Noelle Blackmer Beatty, Washington, D.C., by descent, 1979.
G. Levin, Edward Hopper: A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. II, New York, 1995, p. 307, no. W-338, illustrated.
G. Levin, The Complete Watercolors of Edward Hopper, New York, 2001, p. 307, no. W-338, illustrated.
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Hopper, exhibition catalogue, Madrid, Spain, 2012, p. 337.
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Artists for Victory, December 1942.
New York, Rehn Gallery, November-December 1943.
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art; Boston, Museum of Fine Arts; Detroit, Michigan, Detroit Institute of Arts, Edward Hopper Retrospective Exhibition, February 11-July 2, 1950, p. 58, no. 124.
Manchester, New Hampshire, Currier Gallery of Art; Providence, Rhode Island, Rhode Island School of Design; Hartford, Connecticut, Wadsworth Atheneum, Watercolors by Edward Hopper with a Selection of his Etchings, October 8, 1959-February 7, 1960, n.p., no. 41, illustrated.
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art; Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago; Detroit, Michigan, Detroit Institute of Arts; St. Louis, Missouri, City Art Museum of St. Louis, Edward Hopper, September 29, 1964-May 9, 1965, pp. 47, 67, no. 127, illustrated.
Rockland, Maine, Farnsworth Museum, Edward Hopper, 1882-1967: Oils, Watercolors, Etchings, July-September 1971, n.p., no. 39.
Tokyo, Japan, Bunkamara Museum of Art; Fukushima, Japan, Fukushima Prefectural Museum; Hiroshima, Japan, Hiroshima Art Museum; Ibaraki, Japan, Museum of Modern Art, Edward Hopper, July 15, 1990-January 14, 1991.

Brought to you by

Tylee Abbott
Tylee Abbott Vice President, Head of American Art

Lot Essay

In Four Dead Trees, Edward Hopper dramatically captures the effects of light on the gently rolling landscape of his beloved locale of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Hopper’s varied subject matter, from urban offices, diners and movie theaters to country roads, isolated homes and undulating dunes, was a result of his habitual division of time between New York and New England almost every year beginning in 1912. New England offered the artist respite from the bustle of the city and a plethora of pictorial elements to explore—often spurring a creative outpouring, which formed an important portion of his oeuvre. One of only two watercolors he painted in 1942, Four Dead Trees is a superb example of Hopper’s Cape Cod work and demonstrates his mastery of the watercolor medium. With arresting, hauntingly beautiful, simplicity, Hopper’s watercolors are among the most vibrant and original works of twentieth-century American art.

Hopper painted the present work on the property of his former landlord, the local postmaster Burleigh “Burly” Cobb. Starting in 1930, Hopper and his wife Jo rented a small cottage from Cobb for three summers in South Truro before building a home and studio in the area in 1934. The Hoppers eventually began to spend six months on the Cape almost every year, and Hopper found an abundance of subject matter in the unassuming buildings that populated the peninsula, as well as the sandy dunes and crystalline light that give South Truro its distinct character. As demonstrated by the quality and freshness of the present work, the Cape’s distinct sense of place and light revitalized the artist and provided new forms and effects to explore.

Hopper’s accomplished watercolor technique is evident in the rich washes of Four Dead Trees. Intersected by four proudly upright trees, the undulating landscape is wonderfully rendered with varying tones of green, yellow, red and tan. Indeed, Hopper’s record book notes on the present work, “4 Dead Trees. Cobb’s yard, S. Truro. Sky blue, white streaks…Foreground path, trodden grass pale greenish leading back under locust grove with sun light across top. High grass pinkish white. 4 dead trees greyish white. Tallest one with darker areas. (Sand in front of Cobb house front door [sic].” (as quoted in G. Levin, Edward Hopper: A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. II, New York, 1995, p. 307, no. W-338, illustrated.)

While always maintaining a strong sense of place and an overt realism, Hopper infused his watercolors with color and light. Beyond realism, he sought to capture what he described in 1933 as "the most exact transcription possible of my most intimate impressions of nature." Two decades later, in an oft quoted statement, Hopper again emphasized the importance of his realism as an expression of his own, deeper, aesthetic sense. "Great art," he wrote, "is the outward expression of an inner life in the artist, and this inner life will result in his personal vision of the world." (as quoted in L. Goodrich, Edward Hopper, New York, 1993, pp. 161, 164)

Embodied by Four Dead Trees, Hopper’s unique aesthetic influenced generations of succeeding artists and its impact continues to be seen today. “New England provided Hopper with motifs which he would turn into icons of American art.” (C. Little, Edward Hopper’s New England, New York, 1993, p. VI) Moreover, Guillermo Solana and Jean-Paul Cluzel have written, “His uncommon sensitivity, his distanced perspective on the world, and his sense of drama have earned him a significant place in the history of modern art. Hopper’s work not only casts a spotlight on the birth of American modernity, but also marks the advent of a form of artistic creation entirely his own. His work is recognized throughout the world and his paintings, with their very particular atmosphere, now form part of our collective imagination.” (Hopper, exhibition catalogue, Madrid, Spain, 2012, n.p.)

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