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Edna Boies Hopkins
Birth Date: 
Birth Place: 
Hudson, Mich.
Death Date: 
Death Place: 
Known for her color woodcut prints, Edna Boies Hopkins was one of several American artists of the early 20th century inspired by Japanese woodblock prints and the teachings of Arthur Wesley Dow (1857-1922). Edna Bel Beachboard was born in Hudson, Michigan in 1872, the daughter of a well-to-do banker. Little is known about her early life or how she became interested in art. At the age of nineteen she married John Henry Boies and moved with him to Chicago, where he pursued work in finance. However, he died in 1894, and she turned to art, entering the Cincinnati Art Academy in 1895, where she studied for four years. Her fellow students at the Academy included James Roy Hopkins (1877-1969), her future husband, and Ethel Mars (1876-1856) and Maud Hunt Squire (1873-1955), lifelong friends and future woodcut artists. Boies moved to New York City in 1899 to study at the Pratt Institute, where she learned printmaking under Dow and discovered Japanese ukiyo-e (“floating world”) woodcut prints. In 1900 she began teaching art at New York City’s Veltin School for Girls. Her earliest surviving prints date from around this time. In 1904 Boies married her former classmate James Hopkins and embarked on a year-long honeymoon trip around the world, financed by her father. They visited Ceylon, China, Egypt, India, Italy and Japan; while in Japan she studied woodcut printmaking. James Hopkins had lived in Paris before their marriage, and after their long trip the newlyweds settled in Paris, where they stayed for nearly a decade. She exhibited her work, primarily prints depicting flowers, was admitted to the Société Nationale des Beaux Arts and the Société Internationale des Graveurs en Couleurs, and was a charter member of the Société Internationale des Graveurs sur Bois. The couple made several visits to Claude Monet (1840-1926) in his home in Giverny, where both his gardens and his collection of Japanese prints provided inspiration for Edna’s art. Evidence from sketchbooks and drawings indicates that Edna and her husband traveled to Italy and around France. The onset of World War I caused the Hopkinses to return to Cincinnati in 1914, where James taught at the Art Academy. Edna began spending summers with her friends Mars and Squire in the Provincetown, Mass. art colony, teaching printmaking, and winters in Manhattan, where she rented an apartment, while also visiting James in Cincinnati and the Hopkins family farm in Mechanicsburg, Ohio. Exhibitions of her prints were mounted in the fall of 1914 in the Cincinnati Art Museum and the Brooks Reed Gallery in Boston. The next year sixteen of her prints were shown at San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition, where she was awarded a silver medal. A trip with James to the Cumberland Falls area of Kentucky inspired Edna’s first landscape and figurative prints, some of which were included in a solo show at the Cincinnati Art Museum in 1917. Although James had succeeded Frank Duveneck (1848-1919) as the head of the Art Academy after the latter’s death in 1919, the Hopkinses returned to their former apartment in Paris in 1921, joining other friends including Mars and Squire. In 1923 James was appointed artist-in-residence at Ohio State University in Columbus, and soon became chairman of the art department. Edna continued her peripatetic lifestyle, traveling to New York City, Provincetown, Paris and Brightwater on the coast of Maine (where they had a cottage). Probably due to increasing arthritis, she made few if any prints after 1923. By 1936 her health had declined and she was living at the Statler Hotel in Detroit, where she stayed until she died in a Detroit hospital in March of 1937. (Rev. TNB 10/2015) Selected bibliography: Vasseur, Dominique H. Edna Boies Hopkins: Strong in Character, Colorful in Expression. Exhibition catalog. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2007.