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12 December 2006

Cet article se compose de 5 pages.
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Works by Edward Hopper and Norman Rockwell fetched tremendous prices, respectively 26,896,000  and 15,416,000  dollars (premium included)  during a sale of American paintings held in New York on November 29, 2006 which totalled 82,805,200 dollars.

Norman Rockwell's painting titled "BREAKING HOME TIES" carried an estimate between 4 and 6 million dollars while Edward Hopper's oil canvas titled "HOTEL WINDOW" was estimated between10,000,00 and15,000,000 USD.


Norman Rockwell was born in New York City in 1894. He always wanted to become an artist. Thus,  when he was 14 years old, he started classes at the New York School of Art and left school two years later to study art at the National Academy of Design and then at the Art Students League. 

Norman Rockwell had painted four Christmas cards before he turned 16 and while he still was a teenager he became the art director of Boys' Life - the Boy Scouts of America's publication. At 21, Norman Rockwell settled in New Rochelle, New York, and shared a studio with the cartoonist Clyde Forsythe doing artwork for several magazines. When he was 22, Norman painted his first cover for The Saturday Evening Post, a magazine  described by the artist as "the greatest show window in America." During the next 47 years, Norman Rockwell painted 321 covers for The Post.

Norman Rockwell was extremely successful but he was much affected when his studio was destroyed by fire that resulted in the loss of  many paintings and his collection of historical costumes and props. Almost a decade later, Norman moved to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and published his autobiography. In 1977, Norman Rockwell was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the nation's highest civilian honor) for his "vivid and affectionate portraits of our country." He died at his home on November 8, 1978 when he was 84. 


Born in the small Hudson River town of Nyack, New York State on July 22 1882, Hopper was to be know as the artist who captured the stark, vastness of the physical face of America. A pioneer in picturing the 20th-century American scene, Edward Hopper was a realist whose representation of his native country was filled with deep emotional content.

At 17 he entered a New York school for illustrators; then from 1900 he studied for about six years at the New York School of Art, mostly under Robert Henri, one of the fathers of American Realism who strongly influenced him. Between 1906 and 1910 Hopper made three long visits to Europe, spending mostly his time in France. In Paris he worked on his own, painting outdoor city scenes, and drawing Parisian types. After 1910 he never went abroad again.

Back home, from about 1908 Hopper began painting aspects of the native scene that few others dared to portray. Contrary to most former Henri students, he was above all interested in the physical features of the American city and country. However his pictures  were rejected regularly by academic juries and failed to sell. Until he was over 40 he supported himself by commercial art and illustration, which dissatisfied him; but he found time to paint during most summers.Still, in 1913 he managed to make his first sale - a picture exhibited at the Armory Show in New York (combining American artists and the leading European modernists)

In 1915 Hopper took up etching. His prints presented everyday aspects of America with much truthfulness and feeling. They in fact enabled him to be admitted to the big exhibitions, to win prizes, and to attract attention from critics. With such recognition he began in the early 1920s to paint in earnest and with a new self confidence, at first in oil, then in watercolor. 

In 1924 he married the painter Josephine Verstille Nivison, who had also studied under Henri. Hopper and Nivison quarreled fiercely at times, their rows often exploding into physical violence. Her presence however was essential to his work, sometimes literally so, as Nivison modeled for all the female figures in his paintings.The couple spent winters in New York, on the top floor of an old house on Washington Square where Hopper had lived since 1913. Achieving success, he gave up commercial work, and they could spend whole summers in New England, particularly on the seacoast. From the time of his marriage, Hopper's fortunes changed. His second solo show, at the Rehn Gallery in New York 1924 was a sell-out. The following year, he painted The House by The Rail Road, his first work in his mature style, typical of later works.

In 1930 he and his wife built a house in South Truro on Cape Cod, where they lived almost half the year thenceforth, with occasional trips, including several to the Far West and Mexico. Both of them however preferred a simple life in the countryside.

Hopper was little affected by the Great Depression having become extremely well known. In 1929, he was included in the second exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), Paintings by Nineteen Living Americans, and in 1930 The House by the Railroad entered the museum's permanent collection. In the same year, the Whitney Museum bought Hopper's Early Sunday Morning, its most expensive purchase up to that time.

In 1933 Hopper was given a retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. This was followed, in 1950, by a fuller retrospective show at the Whitney. 

Hopper's subject matter can be divided into three main categories: the city, the small town, and the country. His city scenes dealt generally with the city itself as a physical entity  usual showing one or two women seemingly embodying the loneliness of so many city dwellers. Often his city interiors at night are seen through windows, from the standpoint of an outside spectator with light playing an essential role whatever its essence such as sunlight,shadow, streetlamps, store windows and lighted interiors intended to transform familiar scenes into pictorial dramas.

In his cityscapes he captures the poetry in man-made chaos, for example his paintings New York Movie (1939) and Approaching a City (1946).

Hopper's portrayal of the American small town reflected his deep emotional attachment to his native environment in all its banality and beauty. A world that he accepted, and it was this combination of love and revealing truth that gave his portrait of contemporary America its depth and intensity.

In his landscapes Hopper turned his back on the academic trend aimed at focussing on idyllic nature and therefore ignoring the works of man. Those prominent features of the American landscape, the railroad and the automobile highway, were essential elements in his works. His landscapes have a crystalline clarity and often a poignant sense of solitude and stillness.

Hopper's art was built largely on straight lines; the overall structure being usually horizontal however countered by strong verticals, creating his typical angularity and revealing interesting parallels with geometric abstraction.

Edward Hopper also painted public places such as Nighthawks (1942) and Chop Suey (1929), often visiting cinemas as in New York Movie (1939) Some paintings, such as his celebrated image of a gas-station, Gas (1940), have elements which obviously make him a pioneer of Pop Art.

Hopper visited shipyards along the river Hudson as a boy and dreamt of becoming a naval architect.. His lifelong fascination with sailing and the sea provided a subject to which Hopper consistently returned throughout his career.

After reaching recognition in the 1920s, Hopper received many honors and awards, and increasing admiration from both traditionalist and avant-garde circles. He died in his Washington Square studio on May 15, 1967.

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