The Vanishing Sand Dune- Edward Hopper and Me
Philip Koch, From the Camel's Hump, oil on canvas, 42 x 72
inches, 1983, private collection
I painted this large oil from a small plein air painting I made during my very first stay in Edward Hopper's former studio in S. Truro, MA. The view is looking south at a panorama of Cape Cod Bay. The light is just after dawn. In the foreground is a strange feature- it's the hole in the ground where the distinctive dune pictured below once rose up. It was something of a landmark in Truro, known as the Camel's Hump.
Edward Hopper, The Camel's Hump, oil on canvas, 1931
Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute, Utica, NY
That natural feature caught Hopper's eye during the second summer he and his wife Jo stayed on the Cape. He waited until the late afternoon's slanting light emphasized the dunes impressive volumes. To my eye it is one of his finest paintings and a keystone of the Permanent Collection of the Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, NY.
Unfortunately an over-eager contractor bulldozed the distinctive dune away to build the foundation for a new house. He had neglected to get the necessary building permits so construction was stopped. But the damage was done.
Hopper's viewpoint for his painting was beside the driveway that would be put in a couple years later when in 1934 he and Jo built the studio where they would live half of each year for the next three decades.