Edward Hopper’s Back from Tahiti…Next Stop, Dorset, Vermont!

Paul Gauguin Cruise, Sept 2014 776Edward Hopper and I are back in Vermont, after a wonderful cruise in French Polynesia on the M/S Paul Gauguin. Hopper accompanied me — well, virtually, at least — on my Kindle.  I was happy to also find him in the onboard library, his New England lighthouse holding its own among works by the ship’s namesake and the French Impressionists.

Paul Gauguin Cruise, Sept 2014 765


We are now once again landlocked, and I’m looking forward to giving a presentation about Edward Hopper in Vermont for the Dorset Historical Society on Thursday, October 16. Dorset has great significance for the history of art in Vermont, as the locus for a small group of artists called the Dorset Painters, the founders of what became Vermont’s first art colony.  The Dorset Painters and their annual exhibitions morphed into what became — and is still — the Southern Vermont Arts Center, in nearby Manchester.

There’s no evidence that I know of that Edward and Josephine Hopper ever visited Dorset or Manchester, although a number of the Hoppers’ artist friends from New York went there to paint in the summers — indeed, were in residence there during the same period as the Hoppers’ visits to the Green Mountain State, between 1927 and 1938.  Reginald Marsh, a longtime New York colleague of Edward’s, often visited Dorset after marrying his second wife, Felicia, daughter of Herbert Meyer, one of the founding members of the Dorset Painters.  In New York, Felicia Meyer Marsh and Jo Hopper became empathetic friends, sharing the common fate of being female artists whose work was overshadowed by their husbands. 

But while the Marshes and other colleagues and friends may have inspired the Hoppers’ various trips into Vermont, it seems most likely that the solitary and relatively unsocial Edward purposely avoided the colony life of Dorset and Manchester. Instead, he chose the relative quiet and anonymity of South Royalton, where his extended visits seem to have gone almost entirely without notice or unwanted attention.

On October 16, in my presentation for the Dorset Historical Society, I’ll talk about the early Vermont / New York associations and the Dorset / Manchester connections, albeit indirect, with Edward Hopper.  I hope you’ll join me for this lunchtime talk — on what promises to be a beautiful autumn day in Vermont!

Thursday 16 October 2014
12:00 p.m.
Dorset Historical Society
Edward Hopper in Vermont
Book Talk & Slide Presentation

Edward and Jo Hopper first discovered the scenic beauty of Vermont in 1927, traveling there again in 1935 and 1936 in their continuing search for new places to paint. During these trips and two extended sojourns in South Royalton, in 1937 and ’38, Edward Hopper produced some two dozen paintings, watercolors that are among the most distinctive of his regional works. Author Bonnie Tocher Clause will tell the story of Hopper’s visits to Vermont and the sites depicted in his singular interpretations of the region. For the Dorset audience, Clause will also discuss Hopper’s connections with some of the Southern Vermont Artists of the 1920s and ’30s–although Hopper himself did not venture into this area of Vermont

This talk is part of the Dorset Historical Society‘s Third Thursday lunch series.  Edward Hopper in Vermont (University Press of New England, 2012) will be available for purchase and signing.

Dorset Historical Society / Bley House
Route 30 at Kent Hill Road
Dorset, Vermont 05251