James Hopkins was born on a farm in Irwin, Ohio. He studied for a year at the Ohio State University in 1896, and for another year at the Columbus Art School in 1897. From 1898 to 1900 he studied at the Cincinnati Fine Arts Academy with Frank Duveneck. From 1902 to 1904 and 1905 to 1914, Hopkins lived in Paris. He spent the year 1902 studying art at the Academie Colorossi; in 1904 he married Edna Boies, a fellow artist, and together in 1904-05 went on a world tour, including China, Japan, Ceylon, and Egypt.
Hopkins became famous for his female figural works painted in the decade before World War I. Concurrently, his wife Edna Boies Hopkins earned international fame as a Post-Impressionist print-maker. James Hopkins exhibited at the Salon and won major awards, both abroad and in this country, such as the Gold Medal in 1915 at the Panaman-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.
James Hopkins also had a distinguished teaching career. Between 1914 and 1920, Hopkins taught with Frank Duveneck at the Cincinnati Fine Arts Academy. After three years in Paris, 1920-23, Hopkins returned to Ohio to head the Ohio State University's Fine Arts Department, the position he held until 1948. Hopkins was a respected teacher who built the fledgling department into a major nationally-recognized school of art.
Hopkins also became known for a series of paintings executed between 1915 and 1919. These works, in which he depicted Appalachian farmers, traveling preachers, and children living in the Kentucky mountains south of Cincinnati, are departures from his decorative form of Impressionism. Some of the earliest examples of Regionalist painting in the twentieth century, these works anticipated those of Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, and John Steuart Curry, who also painted the impoverished rural folk of America's heartland.
Source: James M. Keny and Nannette V. Maciejunes, Triumph of Color and Light: Ohio Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, exh. cat., Columbus Museum of Art, 1994, 27-28, 113-114. See also James M. Keny, "A Dilemma of Riches: the Art of James and Edna Hopkins," Timeline, February-March, 1990.
Selected Permanent Collections:
Art Institue of Chicago, Illinois
Atlanta Art Association
Cincinnati Art Museum, Ohio
Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio
High Museum of Art, Atlanta Georgia
Springfield Museum of Art, Springfield, Ohio