Harry Leslie Hoffman (1871 - 1964)
Bea at the Loom, c. 1930
Oil on canvas
30 x 32 inches
Signed at lower center: Hoffman
Arts & Crafts style frame
Estate of the Artist
Harry Leslie Hoffman was joined in his artistic interests by his wife Beatrice Pope. The couple met while at Florence Griswold’s famed artist’s colony in Old Lyme, Connecticut, and the newlyweds quickly purchased property in Old Lyme as a permanent residence.
While Hoffman focused on Impressionist oils, his wife turned her creative energies towards exquisitely wrought hand- crafts, weaving in particular. Beatrice made tapestries in the manner of the French royal tapestry houses, using the Goebelin weaving technique that allows for incredibly detailed scenes to emerge from weft and weave. She created a series of tapestries based on her husband’s fanciful underwater scenes, and both tapestries and paintings were exhibited at the Dayton Art Institute and the Milwaukee Art Institute in 1935.
Bea at the Loom depicts Beatrice working at her loom on a design based on her husband’s paintings. A hand-painted screen of Hoffman’s underwater scenes forms a backdrop to the realist portrait. This painting is directly related to The Tapestry, illustrated in Harry L. Hoffman: A World of Color, plate 23. Both works feature Beatrice at work on her loom, wearing the same yellow sundress and emerald pendant necklace, though different decorative screens are featured. It seems likely that Bea at the Loom was executed first, as more weaving has been completed in The Tapestry. According to Jeffrey W. Anderson in Harry L. Hoffman: A World of Color, 38, “more than any other work, The Tapestry projects the kind of supportive personal relationship that the Hoffmans had with one another.”