Edward Hopper, Reclining Nude, oil on canvas (1924)
Hopper turned forty-one in July; Nivison was just forty. In appearance and personality two people could hardly have been more different. She was not quite five feet one inch tall and weighed about a hundred pounds, while he stood nearly six feet fives inches and was as skinny as ever. Years later Nivison, who was often described as “lively, vivacious,” and “cute,” realled that “no one had ever called him either handsome or distinguished when I married him. It was the long, lean and hungry that got me”. (…)
She was gregarious, outgoing, sociable and talkative, while he was shy, quiet, solitary and introspective. (…)
They soon discovered their shared passion for French (…) Hopper years later reminisced about the happy days when they got together over Verlaine, Verhaeren [Les Heurs claires (1896), Les Heurs d’après-midi (1905), Les Heurs du soir (1911)] etc, etc, etc. An aspect of Verhaeren that parallel the future direction of Hopper’s art was described by Amy Lowell: “Verhaeren is no mere descriptive poet. Neither is he a surface realist. His realism contains the psychologic as well physiologic.”Even the titles with their focus on the qualities of times of day, parallel similar themes and conceptions already emergent in Hopper’s work.
Edward Hopper designed and painted a Christmas card for Josephine Nivison and he copied the last stanza of Paul Verlaine, poem, "La Lune Blanche."
La lune blanche
luit dans les bois.
De chaque branche
part une voix
sous la ramée.
O bien aimé[e]....
du saule noir
où le vent pleure.
Rêvons, c'est l'heure.
Un vaste et tendre
que l'astre irise.
C'est l'heure exquise!
"French remained the language of romantic imagination for Edward and Jo all their lives, although their travels in search of new subjects would take them over further south and west in the new world and never back to Paris."
Gail Levin, Edward Hopper: An intimate Biography, "First Success:1923-1924," (Los Angeles, University of California Press, 1998) pp. 168 and 173.
An interesting article on Edward and Josephine: