The OCA I&P material makes reference to Emil Otto Hoppé (1878-1972) – it was an unfamiliar name to me, so I was curious to find out more. The O.E Hoppé Estate Collection (EC) explains how Hoppé auctioned himself into obscurity by selling his complete works in 1954 (prior to the writing of most histories of photography) for them to be subsumed with millions of other ‘stock photographs. It wasn’t until 1990 that Hoppé’s photos were extracted, and his archive reconstructed. EC describes Hoppé as one of the most renowned portrait photographers of his day. The National Portrait Gallery featured an exhibition of his work in 2011, describing him as ‘… one of the most important photographers of the first half of the twentieth century. Celebrated during his lifetime, much of Hoppé’s work has only recently been reassembled and this major survey will enable visitors to discover a forgotten master.’
EC provides a generous display of Hoppé’s work and biographical information. In the portraits, I feel a sense of intense engagement with his sitters and the depth of tones in the photos adds to the richness of the viewing experience.
Hoppé was also interested in typologies, producing two books on the people of London. He seemed to have a knack of getting under the skin of people. Lucy Davies, in The Telegraph, discussing his portraits of the Yorks, says, ‘Hoppé was famous for his attention to the minutiae of his sitters’ individuality, and one can surmise that his unhurried, friendly manner, brought out the innate poise of the young royal couple. He reportedly kept himself informed on a number of topics, so as to converse easily with the variety of his subjects, studying them discreetly as he talked, for expressions he thought natural or characteristic. It was this drive to transmit his personal appreciation for his sitters that makes his photographs so distinctive.’
A couple of Hoppé’s photo books have been ordered and will be examined in future blog posts. Used copies of books are available at unusually low prices for photobooks, perhaps reflecting Hoppé’s relative obscurity.
Davies L (2011). Telegraphy [online]. E.O. Hoppé: See the Yorks as they really were. Available from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/photography/8325689/E.O.-Hoppe-See-the-Yorks-as-they-really-were.html [accessed 4.7.16]
Grove Art [online]. Hoppé, E. O. Available from: http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/grove/art/T038905?q=hoppe&search=quick&pos=2&_start=1#firsthit [accessed 4.7.16]
O.E Hoppé Estate Collection [website]. Available from: http://www.eohoppe.com [accessed 4.7.16]
National Portrait Gallery [website]. Hoppé Portraits: Society, Studio and Street. Available from: http://www.npg.org.uk/hoppe/exhibition.html [accessed 4.7.16]
The Guardian [online] Hoppé portraits in pictures. Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2011/feb/13/photography-hoppe-portraits-in-pictures [accessed 4.7.16]