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Study of Fencers and Boxers

Title Study of Fencers and Boxers
Artist Edward Hopper
Markings Unsigned
Medium Pen and ink on paper
Dimensions 3 3/8" x 6" (12 1/4" x 14 1/4", framed)
Provenance The artist, until 1967; to his widow, Jo Hopper, until 1968; to private collection, until the present
Authenticity Guaranteed by Hirschl & Adler Galleries 21 East 70th St., New York, NY 10021
Commentary Hopper had a life-long interest in sports activities and his brand of realism was often concerned with vigorous physical activity. In this sheet, he sketches two pairs of combatants in dynamic movement. The juxtaposition of fencers and boxers compares the two pairs of athletes suspended in space. In both cases, the figures appear agitated, gripped with intensity of subduing their opponent and additionally share the accelerated and retarded motion of their arduous activity.
Early in the twentieth century, boxing was generally associated with the underclass, while fencing was the province of upper and middle classes. At this time, boxing was on the ascendancy as a mass spectator sport in America, where as fencing's glory days in the 19th century were rapidly fading. The fencers, dueling with cutting and thrusting long swords, assume the traditional position of attack and defense similar to the boxers. While an art student in New York, Hopper often went to boxing matches at Brown's Gymnasium with fellow students, George Bellows and Guy Pene Du Bois. The autobiographical element in this sheet consists of a self-portrait by Hopper who represents himself as the boxer on the left taking a beating from his boyhood friend Wallace Tremper. RPM
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