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Western Motel

Janet M. Torpy, MD
JAMA. 2008;300(14):1626. doi:10.1001/jama.300.14.1626.
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Forty-two-year-old bachelor artist Edward Hopper (1882-1967) married Josephine “Jo” Nivison in 1924, 18 years after they first met in American realist painter Robert Henri's art class. In the interval between their meeting and their wedding, while Hopper illustrated for the commercial art world, Jo worked as a teacher in the New York Public School system, traveled in Europe, and even taught art classes. As part of the war effort, in 1918 (after her mother's death from breast cancer) the newly liberated Jo departed for France; she worked in hospitals and on the USS Sierra. She later served at Walter Reed General Hospital. A struggling artist (and acting student) after her return to New York, Jo painted throughout her life primarily in watercolor, though few of her works have survived. During the Hoppers' long and tempestuous marriage, Jo carefully recorded Ed's art and his life in ledgers: not only were sales of his paintings inscribed, but also their travels, exhibitions of his works, Hopper's struggles, and stories about some of the paintings in progress. She spent the majority of her married life promoting Hopper to the art world and encouraging his artistic efforts. Their combined frugality is as legendary as their reputation for vociferous arguments and physical fights. They continued to buy their clothing at Woolworth's and at Sears even after financial success, bought used cars, and electrified their South Truro, Massachusetts, house in 1954, 20 years after it was built.

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Edward Hopper (1882-1967), Western Motel, 1957, American. Oil on canvas. 77.8× 128.3 cm. Courtesy of Yale University Art Gallery (http://artgallery.yale.edu/), New Haven, Connecticut; bequest of Stephen Carlton Clark, 1961.18.32. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery/Art Resource, New York, New York.



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