This week we have three chances* to buy an original Edward Hopper, including one of his rare watercolors of Vermont. On Thursday, 5 December, two Hopper paintings will be on the auction block in the American Art sale at Christie’s — Sugar Maple, a watercolor that Hopper made during his 1938 stay on the Slaters’ farm in South Royalton, Vermont, and a major oil, an urban scene called East Wind Over Weehawken (1934) that has been deaccessioned by the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and is being “sold to support the acquisition endowment” (much to my consternation and that of some other Philadelphians!).
I’d seen both of these paintings “in person” before — Sugar Maple in last summer’s exhibition of Hopper’s Vermont works at the Middlebury College Museum of Art, and East Wind Over Weehawken at PAFA and in various Hopper retrospectives at the Whitney Museum of American Art. But I couldn’t resist the unique opportunity to see both of these paintings at the same time, so yesterday I went to New York City with my friend Valerie for the pre-sale viewing at Christie’s in Rockefeller Center.
We were delighted to find Sugar Maple immediately, at the entrance to the first gallery. East Wind Over Weehawken was just beyond — occupying its own room, as befits a painting with an estimated price of $22,000,000 – 28,000,000 (yes, this is indeed the correct number of zeros!).
Christie’s clever arrangement allowed the simultaneous viewing of two extremes of Hopper’s work, two paintings that are dramatically different in every way — in subject, medium, size, and style. This placement also allowed the small (14 x 20 in.) and modest watercolor of Hopper’s Vermont to loom large in the foreground without being totally eclipsed by the monumental oil (34 x 50 in.) of Hopper’s New Jersey.
I’ll be glued to Christie’s web site tomorrow, watching the live stream of the auction, curious to see what prices these two Hoppers fetch — and who buys them, if that’s revealed. And if you, as I, can only dream about getting an original Hopper for Christmas, this is a reminder that my book, Edward Hopper in Vermont, includes color reproductions of Sugar Maple and 20 other paintings at an affordable price. It’s an excellent gift for yourself or anyone who loves Hopper and/or Vermont.
I’m also pleased to report that Christie’s cites Edward Hopper in Vermont in the catalog notes for Sugar Maple. You can read the lot notes online and view the entire e-catalog for Christie’s American Art sale by clicking here.
I splurged and bought the print catalog, and Valerie and I topped off our wonderful NYC day with a visit to The Frick Collection. There we saw Vermeer’s luminous Girl With a Peal Earring and other incomparable works from the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague. What a fabulous art-filled day!
*Oops…those chances are going, going, gone! The third Hopper, Spindley Locusts (watercolor, 1936, Wellfleet, Massachusetts) was sold at Sotheby’s as I was writing this piece. The new owner paid $305,000 (hammer price plus buyer’s premium).