Hopkins

Edna Boies Hopkins

1872-1937

Petunias

color woodblock print, with artist's peapod seal, ca. 1907-08

10 1/8 by 7 1/8 in., 25.8 by 18 cm

Edna ('Eddie') Bel Beachboard grew up in Hudson, Michigan, where she was married in March of 1992 at the age of 19 to a local banker, John Henry Boies, nine years her senior. When John was offered a banking job in Chicago, Illinois the couple moved to the Windy City where John contracted tuberculosis. In an effort to seek a mild and dry climate to help his recuperation they decamped to Denver, Colorado, but it was to no avail, he died in December 1894. The young widow enrolled in the Art Academy of Cincinnati in Ohio the following year where she met her future husband, the painter James Roy Hopkins (1877-1969), while studying illustration, life drawing, wood carving and sculpture. In 1899 she moved to New York and enrolled at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, becoming a student of Arthur Wesley Dow (1857-1922). Dow was one of the most influential proponents of Japanese woodblock printmaking in the United States, in part through his widely utilized book, Composition, which was published the same year, and he would build on his understanding of Japanese printing techniques when he journeyed to Japan in 1903.

In 1904 she married James Hopkins, and for a wedding present her parents sent the couple on a one-year honeymoon around the world which included a sojourn in Japan. They only made it partially back to the West when settled in Paris in 1905 and stayed until the outbreak of World War I in 1914. Returning to the city in which they met, James took a post at the Cincinnati Art Academy. They were back in Paris from 1920 to 1923 before finally returning to Ohio, this time in Columbus where James was first an 'artist-in-residence' at Ohio State University, and later became the head of the Department of Fine Arts.

Edna, on the other hand, built a life for herself as a very independent artist, spending her winters in an apartment she rented in New York City and her summers Cape Cod, Massachusetts where she was a part of the circle of Provincetown printmakers pioneering white-line printing along with B. J. O. Nordfeldt (1878-1955) and where she also taught classes. She made her first woodblock print around 1900, and it became her primary medium, specializing in closely cropped floral compositions reminiscent of kacho-ga (bird and flower prints) by artists such as Hiroshige (1897-1958) and Hokusai (1760-1849). She exhibited her first woodblock prints while in Paris in 1906, and later she was a charter member of the Société de la Gravure sur Bois Originale Francais (Society of French Painter-Engravers) established in 1911. When the Hopkins left Paris the first time, the Cincinnati Art Museum held an exhibition of Edna's woodblock prints in the fall of 1914. In 1921, an article presenting an overview of woodblock printing in America published in Scribners recognized Hopkins (along with fellow print artists Margaret Patterson and Elizabeth Colwell) skillful handling of the blocks that "almost suggest actual work in oil or body color rather than printing" and points out, "The fact that most of the women artists in this field work in color may be noted."

An impression similar to this version of the composition with the circular peapod seal was located bound inside the August 1908 issue of The Bibliophile magazine accompanied by the description: "The Petunia print has been produced from the original blocks by careful working on a small press, but it has been found impossible to give thus the relief and variety of the hand print, of which a very limited impression has been taken off on Imperial Japanese Vellum. Subscribers desirous of receiving a copy may do so by obtaining a yearly subscription to The Bibliophile and forwarding 9 Pounds to The Bibliophile Office, or the Print will be sent post free for 3/6. This is a unique opportunity of securing a specimen of Mrs. Hopkins exquisite art."

References:
Frank Weitenkampf, Wood-Block Printing To-Day, Scribners, July 1921, pp. 635-640
Julia Meech & Gabriel P. Weisberg, Japonisme Comes to America, 1990, pp.180-189
Dominique H. Vasseur, Edna Boies Hopkins: Strong in Character, Colorful in Expression, 2007, p. 75, no. 51
Karin Breuer, Japanesque: The Japanese Print in the Era of Impressionism, 2010, p. 112, fig. 96
(inv. no. C-3357)

price: $1,100

kikumon

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site last updated
December 1, 2022

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475