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Edward Hopper's 'October on Cape Cod' to be auctioned in November

September 21, 2012|By Mike Boehm
  • Edward Hopper's 1946 oil painting "October on Cape Cod," is to be auctioned by Christie's on Nov. 28, with an estimated price of $8 million to $12 million.
Edward Hopper's 1946 oil painting "October on Cape Cod,"… (Christie's )

Edward Hopper is famous for showing people lost in urban isolation, in paintings such as "Nighthawks," the bereft 1942 diner scene that's in the Art Institute of Chicago's collection, and "Hotel Window," a 1955 canvas that fetched $26.8 million at a Sotheby’s auction in 2006.

Now his 1946 oil painting "October on Cape Cod" will be going under the gavel in a Nov. 28 auction at Christie's in New York. The emotional tenor of the work, which is 3 1/2 feet wide and a little over 2 feet high, seems to suggest that little beachfront cottages can get the lonelies too, even if they have a tiny wooden barn to keep them company.

Christie's announcement on Thursday noted that Jo Hopper, the painters wife who was also an artist, described "October on Cape Cod" in writing, ending with the words, "Peace, quiet, no birds sing. Some day you will be quiet too."

The Hoppers, who lived mainly in Manhattan, rented a summer home in the Cape Cod community of South Truro starting in 1930, then built a home and studio there in 1934, Christie's says. Thenceforth, the couple spent a good deal of time on the cape, a vacation spot and art colony that juts out from Massachusetts in the shape of a court jester's curvy-toed shoe.

Christie's says that "October on Cape Cod" is one of the last Hopper paintings that remains privately owned; it is to go on tour for viewings in Hong Kong and Paris next month, prior to a four-day showing in Manhattan leading up to the sale.

The pre-auction price estimate is $8 million to $12 million, but Christie's and its unnamed client clearly wouldn't mind a repeat of the "Hotel Window" scenario, which saw that painting more or less double Sotheby's pre-sale prediction of $10 million to $15 million.

Hopper, who died in 1967, is the subject of a major exhibition opening Oct. 10 at the National Galleries of the Grand Palais in Paris, where he lived and studied for nearly a year in 1906, when he was in his mid-20s. According to Christie's, it's his first big retrospective in the City of Lights, and "Nighthawks" will be on loan for the occasion.

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