They’re back in Vermont…Hopper’s Vermont Watercolors and Drawings, at the Middlebury College Museum of Art

Opening Event: Friday, 7 June, 4:00 p.m. ….Scroll down for details.


Edward Hopper.
Vermont Sugar House (1938).
Collection of Louis Moore Bacon.

Need I say more?  Well,  yes…this is, after all, my blog and my soapbox! I have to underscore that the Middlebury exhibition offers what is most likely a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see Edward Hopper’s Vermont works reunited and hanging together in the Green Mountain State, the place where they were made. These watercolors and drawings have come to Middlebury from all over the United States, on loan from five private collectors and six museums.  They’ve been assembled as a unique group of Hopper’s works related to a single place — Vermont — for the first time, other than in the pages of my book.

Most of these works have only rarely, if ever, been exhibited outside of their owners’ homes or away from their home institutions. And none of them have come home to Vermont since Hopper packed them into the trunk of his car, at the end of his various summer sojourns between 1927 and 1938, and drove them back to his winter home in New York City.

Seen “in person,” Hopper’s paintings are strikingly beautiful, with colors that have remained strong — an advantage of their being so rarely on display and thus protected from the damage caused by too much exposure to light.  As watercolors, they have a translucence that reveals the artist’s underlying pencil sketch and, in some cases, traces of his changes and corrections. The Conté crayon and pencil drawings, which relate directly or indirectly to the finished watercolors, record Hopper’s interest in the details of the Vermont landscape — trees, rocks, water, the shape of the mountain ridgeline — and  evidence his process in developing final compositions.

Middlebury’s installation, by museum designer Ken Pohlman, provides a lovely setting for these Hoppers, spaced to favor intimate examination of individual pieces as well as to  facilitate comparison of works made on Hopper’s various visits to Vermont. Ken included location maps and photographs of Hopper’s sites and the Hoppers’ own records of Vermont paintings – Jo’s descriptive notes and Edward’s sketches – in reproductions of pages from their Ledger Books. A guest book from the Slaters’ farm, signed by Edward, original letters from Jo Hopper to Irene Slater, and other period ephemera are displayed in a case.  And there are two kinds of labels for this exhibition: I provided the storyline for the Hoppers’ time in Vermont, and Richard Saunders, museum director and Middlebury professor, wrote about the works from his perspective as an art historian.  Richard’s commentary, based on his direct observations of the original works in this rare assemblage, is another unique aspect of the exhibition, complementing and augmenting what I’ve written.

Need I say more?  Just one more thing:  The official opening event for the exhibition is on Friday, June 7 — a great chance to see the exhibition, hear my talk, and join the reception to celebrate bringing Hopper home to Vermont!  Details are below.


Friday, 7 June 2013
4:00 p.m.
Middlebury College Museum of Art
Edward Hopper in Vermont
Lecture and slide presentation
by Bonnie Tocher Clause, author and guest curator for Middlebury’s exhibition of Edward Hopper’s Vermont watercolors and drawings.
Book signing and reception following the lecture.


Lecture location: Concert Hall / Mahaney Center for the Arts
72 Porter Field Road / Middlebury, VT / 802.443.5007

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