In the summer of 1923, petite Josephine Verstille Nivison (1883-1968), just over 5 feet tall and 100 pounds, and Edward Hopper (1882-1967), just under 6 feet 5 inches and lean and lanky, began painting together in Gloucester, Mass, a summer art colony at one of America's oldest seaports. Her roommate did not approve of him, so Hopper would come by early in the morning and toss pebbles at her window to rouse her for the day's activities.2(p168) Neither of them had married although he was 41 years old and she was 40 years old. Born in New York City, she was a graduate of the Normal College of the City of New York (now Hunter College) and had retired on disability as a teacher from the New York public school system after contracting diphtheria while teaching on a children's ward; she was now actively pursuing a career as an artist, specializing in watercolor. Born in Nyack, NY, he described himself as Hudson River Dutch. He was a full-time artist, and although he had recent success as an engraver and had won prizes, his only sale of a painting, Sailing, had occurred 10 years earlier at the acclaimed Armory Show in New York City. Both admired Robert Henri (1865-1929) and had studied with him at the New York School of Art, sometimes known as the Ashcan School to emphasize its focus on realistic American scenes, alleys, tenements: everyday life in a large city.
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Cover: Edward Hopper (1882-1967), American. Nighthawks, 1942. Oil on canvas, 84.1 × 152.4 cm. Friends of American Art Collection, The Art Institute of Chicago. Photography © The Art Institute of Chicago.
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