E.O. Hoppé, ''The Master'' of Photography (1878-1972)

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Hoppé Chronology

Emil Otto Hoppé: A Chronology (& Some Questions Below)

By Mick Gidley


1878 Hoppé born in Munich, Germany, on April 14, son of Philip Hoppé, banker, and Marie von der Porth, a well-read amateur pianist who had grown up in Prague and Vienna.

1883 Begins schooling in Munich.

1890-93 Continues education in Vienna, staying with relatives of his mother.

1892 The Brotherhood of the Linked Ring, British pictorialist photographic movement,     established.

1893 Back in Munich, encouraged by his mother, Hoppé begins weekend classes in painting with Hans von Bartels, one of Franz von Lenbach’s students. Matriculates from the Wilhelms Gymnasium, Munich.

1896-99 Trains in father’s Munich bank, but at weekends continues to frequent von Bartels’ studio.

1900 Travelling with an uncle, Hoppé pays an extended visit to London, where he works in the Deutsche Bank, Lombard Street, and takes up photography as a hobby.

1901 Death of Queen Victoria; accession of Edward VII.

1902 Photo-Secession, US avant-garde pictorialist movement, established by Alfred Stieglitz.

Settles in Barnes, West London, and cultivates relationships with creative figures of all sorts, establishing a pattern of life; early friends include Haldane Macfall, writer and art historian, John Cimon Warburg and Alvin Langdon Coburn, photographers, and Alexander Teixeira de Mattos, translator.

1903 Single lens reflex camera manufactured by American Graflex.

1903 Hoppé joins Royal Photographic Society (RPS).

1904 Begins to act as London correspondent for various German-language photographic journals, first Photographische Mitteilungen (which becomes Photographische Rundshau), then, in 1905, the yearbook Die Photographische Kunst.

1905 On June 2, marries Marion Bliersbach, who is herself originally from Munich.

For the first of many times, successfully enters pictures in the RPS annual show.

Despite his amateur status, begins to win prizes in camera club competitions and regional exhibitions.

1906 Selected for inclusion in the Second American Photographic Salon, curated by Rudolf Eickemeyer and mounted in New York and Chicago.

Exhibits with members of the Linked Ring at the Fourteenth Annual Exhibition of the Photographers’ Salon in London.

1907 Made a Fellow of the RPS and organizes the exhibition of 120 German pictorialist images as a component of the annual RPS show.

Appointed Secretary to the British committee for the huge International Exhibition of Photography to be mounted in Dresden in 1909.

On October 1 founds his first professional studio, at 10 Margravine Gardens, Barons Court, London.

Awarded First Prize in a portrait competition sponsored by camera makers Thornton Pickard, the first of many awards as a professional; winning entry printed as frontispiece in The Photographic News.

1908 Selected by F. J. Mortimer to appear in the Salon des Refusés exhibition mounted at the offices of  The Amateur Photographer to rival that year’s Linked Ring Salon.

Marion Hoppé’s “Evening” wins second prize in the “open” section of London Eastman Plate Competition.

1909 Futurist Manifesto proclaimed, in Paris, by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti.

1909 Hoppé’s first solo exhibition, of 60 photographs, in Munich.With Sir Benjamin Stone, Hoppé selects the British entries for the Dresden exhibition.

Arranges London show of photographs by Rudolph Dührkoop of Hamburg.

Begins to place camera portraits in The Bystander, the London weekly, an association to last many years.

Initiates the occasional publication of “narrative” photographs to illustrate stories in The Lady’s Realm and other women’s magazines. Takes on photographic assistants.

1909-10 Proposed for admission to the Linked Ring, but the election is deferred. When the Ring unlinks, Hoppé is a principal founder of London Salon of Photography.

1910 Accession of George V in Britain.

1910 Hoppé’s first London solo exhibition, of 72 photographs, at the RPS, in April; The Illustrated London News publishes a special supplement of 16 of the portraits and some also appear in The Graphic; he is frequently commissioned thereafter by these weeklies.

Wins medal from the Budapest Austellung, the first of many international prizes.

Appointed to the Council of the Professional Photographers’ Association (later British Institute for Professional Photography).

1911 Moves to larger studio at 59 Baker Street, London, and Marion opens a fashionable underwear and dressmaking shop, Marion Hoppé et Cie, near Portman Square.

Photographs leading members of Serge Diaghilev’s visiting Ballets Russes.

Photographs Henry James; his camera portraits of authors, such as Thomas Hardy and Rudyard Kipling, begin to appear frequently in The Bookman.

Publishes photographs in The Tatler, an association to last through two decades of changing fashions.

To Photography, a technical and aesthetic handbook edited by Henry P. Maskell, contributes chapters and photographic illustrations.

1912 Son Frank born on January 18; to Hoppé he is affectionately known as “Sidney.”

On January 25 Hoppé becomes a naturalized British citizen.

1913 Solo photographic exhibition at London’s Goupil Gallery, in February, of society portraits, ballet and theatrical studies.

Rents and moves to 7 Cromwell Place, renamed Millais House, South Kensington, London, which he also uses as a venue for a variety of small exhibitions, both “permanent” and temporary, and, later, musical evenings. The exhibitions, mounted by Hoppé, are credited to Dorien Leigh or the Dorien Leigh Gallery/ies; significant shows include drawings by Paul and John Nash (1914), Polish graphics introduced by Augustus John (1921), designs for the theater by Robert Edmond Jones (1922), woodcuts by Max Weber (1922), and paintings by Gluck (1924).

Millais House is also used as the mailing address of the International Portrait Service, Hoppé’s commercial picture agency.

Publishes portfolio of Studies from the Russian Ballet.

Begins occasional publication of some of his own drawings in The Tatler, and then in other magazines.

1914-18 World War I.

1914 New arts magazine, Colour, subsidized by Lord Leverhulme, launched; Hoppé is an art editor and contributes articles, a review, photographs and drawings.

Wins prize in a portrait competition judged by Stieglitz for the American photographic journal Portrait.

Elected to the RPS Council.

1915 Albert Einsteins General Theory of Relativity.

1915 Hoppé’s daughter Muriel born on December 15.

1916 As a commercial photographic outlet for fashion work, Hoppé establishes Dorien Leigh Ltd at 8 Bruton Street, London; this address also serves as a venue for small art exhibitions mounted by the Dorien Leigh Gallery/ies.

1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia.

1917-21 Founder and committee member (with George Sheringham, Augustus John and others) of The Plough Club, which fosters performance art, including the first English-speaking presentation of Maurice Maeterlinck’s Joyzelle, Italian Futurist plays by Marinetti and his followers, and new music by Arnold Bax, Gustav Holst, and others.

1918 Ezra Pound’s Pavannes and Divisions contains frontispiece portrait of Pound by Hoppé; in the next decade many other authors, including Arthur Machen and George Bernard Shaw, follow suit.

1919 Hoppé helps found the Decorative Art Group, which aims to bring the arts into everyday life by providing paintings suitable for curtain design, ceramics for living rooms, etc.The Patrician, the British edition of Vanity Fair, published for the first time; Hoppé contributes editorial matter and society photographs to early issues.

Purchases Little Hedgecourt, East Grinstead, Sussex, as country retreat; commissions architectural work there by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

1919-21 Several extended visits to the USA; takes portraits of many prominent figures in his New York studio at 130 West 57th Street, including Einstein, President-to-be Calvin Coolidge, actors Marion Davies and Paul Robeson; photographs Manhattan sites; makes “American types;” and undertakes commercial assignments.

1920 Begins to contribute photographs to Eve, a new women’s magazine. Exhibits, in New York, a selection of his small-scale wire and paper sculptures and a variety of graphic works.

1921 Photographs, for the first of several times, George V and Queen Mary.

Begins to publish short illustrated articles in numerous magazines, an activity that will continue throughout his career; he usually writes under his own name but occasionally uses the nom de plume Decarteo.

Joins newly established literary P.E.N. Club.

1922 Benito Mussolinis Fascists seize power in Italy.

1922 Hoppé’s major London solo show, in January, of 221 exhibits, at Goupil Gallery (catalogue introduction by John Galsworthy), is much acclaimed.

International Theatre Exhibition at Victoria and Albert Museum, London, in June-July; Hoppé on organizing committee and, as well as a photograph of Edward Gordon Craig, contributes stage and costume designs.

Commissioned to photograph the American modern dance troupe led by Ruth St Denis and Ted Shawn.

Publishes selection of female portraits as The Book of Fair Women.

Publishes portraits of street figure “types” in Taken from Life, with text by J. D. Beresford.

1923 Visits Rumania, as guest of Queen Marie and Rumanian royal family, to collect material for his first travel book, In Gipsy Camp and Royal Palace (1924); in his absence Marion runs the studio and takes portraits.

Visits Paris to photograph dying writer Anatole France and other artistic figures.

Publishes literary camera portraits in Gods of Modern Grub Street by A. St. John Adcock, editor of The Bookman.

Exhibition “Photographic Masterpieces by E. O. Hoppé” staged by Asahai Shinbun Company of Tokyo.

1924 Lightweight 35mm Leica camera introduced.

British Empire Exhibition, Wembley, London.

1924 Hoppé travels to Italy, sponsored by the Sunbeam automobile company; in Rome photographs Mussolini for The Graphic.

Photographs the first “Nippy” (waitress) to be employed in London’s new Lyons’ Cornerhouses: this constitutes the most famous of many advertising commissions.

1925 Neue Sachlicheit (New Objectivity), German art and photography movement, inaugurated.

1925 Travels around Britain and Ireland for an Orbis Terrarum volume Picturesque Great Britain (1926), which has an Introduction by the politician and writer Charles F. G. Masterman.

Hoppé’s portrait of George V sent to UK embassies and other government offices as the “official” royal portrait.

1926 Publishes portraits of street figures in London Types Taken from Life, by W. Pett Ridge.

Provides photographic illustrations for Tancred Borenius’ Forty London Statues and Public Monuments.

Returns to the USA to make topographical studies for the Orbis Terrarum volume Romantic America (1927); also takes portraits in New York, visits Hollywood, and spends time in the Native American Southwest.

Visits Cuba, Jamaica, and other sites in the Caribbean and Central America.

Using money from Marion’s family, the Hoppés acquire Edhof, a farmhouse in Molln, Austria, as a summer home.

1927 Exhibition, in May, of “Rural England” photographs at Dover Gallery, London, to mark British publication of Picturesque Great Britain.

Establishes studio in Berlin and mounts solo exhibition there of 290 prints; takes portraits for Germany’s UFA Film Studio; undertakes German industrial and topographical photography for Deutsche Arbeit (1930) and other works; deepens German contacts sufficiently to appear regularly in such photographic outlets as the yearbook Das Deutsche Lichtbild (1928 onwards).

Publishes American portraits in Fire Under the Andes by Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant.

1928 Hoppé publishes more portraits of writers in The Glory that was Grub Street by A. St John Adcock.

Illustrated London News issues his iconic portrait of George V in coloured rotogravure format as a special Christmas supplement.

1929 Wall Street stock market crash heralds the Great Depression.

Film und Foto exhibition (Stuttgart, then other venues in Central Europe) celebrates modernist photography.

Rolleiflex twin-lens reflex camera introduced.

1929 Hoppé publishes pictures of Roma in The Story of the Gypsies by the Rumanian-American Romany writer Konrad Bercovici.

Publishes photographs of rural German small towns in Romantik der Kleinstadt (Cities Time Has Passed By).

1929-30 With son Frank as assistant for much of the journey, travels to India, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Australia, and New Zealand.

1930 “Camera Pictures,” a solo exhibition of 79 prints by Hoppé, mounted at David Jones’s Department Store, Sydney.

In Berlin, publishes Deutsche Arbeit, studies of German industry.

1931-39 Extensive photographic travels, usually commissioned, to Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), including Bali, many African countries, and much of eastern Europe.

Regular contributor to the annual Modern Photography (1931-43), published in association with The Studio; writes the Introduction to the 1933-34 issue.

Until 1937, at Millais House, Dorien Leigh Ltd, with administrative assistance from Miss M. E. Chickall, increasingly acts as an agency for Hoppé and certain continental European photographers, and as the sole agent for the Münchner Illustrierte Presse.

1931 Hoppé publishes The Fifth Continent, on Australia, the first comprehensive photographic book on the country.

In Berlin, he publishes Unterwegs: Skizzen (In Passing), an illustrated miscellany of short sketches.

1932 Elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Acts as the judge of a beauty competition for the London Daily Sketch.

Publishes London, the first of a number of books he devotes to the city.

1933-34 Adolf Hitler’s Nazis seize power in Germany; Nazis assassinate Chancellor Dolffuss of Austria.

1933 Exhibits two images in the massive photographic section of the Century of Progress world’s fair in Chicago.

1934 Publishes autobiographical travel book Round the World with a Camera.

Contributes majority of photographs to John Betjeman’s Shell Guide Cornwall Illustrated.

1934 Publishes The Image of London.

Contributes over 50 images to The Face of Mother India by Katherine Mayo.

1936-37 Death of George V; abdication of Edward VIII; coronation of George VI.

1936 Commissioned by Ambassador Count von Ribbentrop to photograph interior of the (Nazi) German Embassy in London.

1937 Hoppé publishes The London of George VI.

1939-45 World War II.

1939 Hoppé ceases travel work and returns to London at outbreak of war. Concentrates thereafter on making Dorien Leigh, now with a Fleet Street address, into a photographic agency and on the production of numerous short illustrated essays, some under the name James Carr.

1943 Son Frank, a successful business executive currently serving in the armed forces, marries Susannah Irene Strasman.

1944 Grandson Michael born.

1945 Hoppé publishes book of reminiscences, Hundred Thousand Exposures, with an Introduction by Cecil Beaton.

Moves to an old manor house, Ram’s Hill House, in Horsmonden, Kent.

1946 Contributes 4 chapters and numerous images to The World’s Peoples and How They Live.

Joins Helmut Gernsheim and Hugo van Wadenoyen in judging the first post-war regional photographic exhibition in Britain, mounted in the West Midlands by the photographic societies of Wolverhampton, Hereford and Bristol, who constitute the CS [Combined Societies] Association.

1947 India achieves independence.

1947-52 Under chairmanship of Wadenoyen, Hoppé joins such figures as critic-poet Herbert Read, artist John Piper and editor Tom Hopkinson to select items for international photographic exhibitions circulated annually throughout Britain by the CS Association.

1948 Hoppé sells the extensive files of his own photographs to the publishers Hutchinson & Co, and is granted a seat on their Board; these files are later sold to become a significant part of the independent picture agency run as the Mansell Collection, London.

Partly sponsored by the British Colonial Office, photographs in the West Indies and British Honduras (Belize).

Establishes himself as a literary agent under the name James Carr.

Grandson Richard born.

1951 Festival of Britain, Southbank, London, and other venues.

1953 Coronation of Elizabeth II televised to millions.

1954 One-person exhibition of 100 images, “A Half-Century of Photography,” at Foyles Art Gallery, London, opened by James Laver. (Exhibition of 93 prints later shown at Lenbachhaus, Munich, then toured by British Council to India and the Far East).

Starts to write an (unpublished) autobiography.

1956 Publishes Blaue Berge von Jamaica (Blue Waters of Jamaica) in Berlin.

Moves to Raglans, Balaclava Lane, Wadhurst, Sussex.

1957 Ghana achieves independence.

1957 Moves to The Old House, South View Road, Crowborough, Sussex.

1958 Hoppé produces abstract and semi-abstract photographs.

1959 Publishes short typescript advice books under the pseudonym James Carr.

1961 Moves to Triangle, Wildhern, Nr. Andover, Hampshire, to be closer to daughter Muriel, a professional administrator for the Red Cross.

Writes (further) notes towards an (unpublished) autobiography.

1963 Wife Marion dies; shares home with Muriel at the Coltings, Wildhern.

1968 Small exhibition mounted by Kodak, in London, to mark Hoppé’s ninetieth birthday; a BBC radio interview is devoted to his memories; son Frank organizes commemorative scrapbook.

1969 In January, Cecil Beaton takes his portrait.

1970-71 Undergoes medical operation; moves into the Hedley Nursing Home, 52 The Avenue, Andover.

1972 Hoppé reminisces, orally and in writing, for photo-historian Bill Jay.

With the assistance of a ghost writer, publishes his last book, Pirates, Buccaneers and Gentlemen Adventurers.

In October, made Honorary Fellow of the RPS.

Dies on December 9, at age ninety-four.


In notes ultimately traceable to Hoppé himself, it is sometimes claimed that he received some of his education in Paris. Is there any evidence of an early school period in Paris?

At least one reference work claims that Hoppé saw service in the German army between 1895 and 1897. Did he? What is the evidence?

Did Hoppé have any non-military role in the First World War? During it, did he, like other UK citizens with “foreign” names or accents, experience any hostility on the part of “native” citizens?

I have so far been unsuccessful in efforts to trace the origins of, or the associations for, the names “Dorien Leigh” and “James Carr”. Any ideas?

Is there an archive anywhere that includes materials on the Decorative Arts group?

It has been claimed that Hoppé made a special visit to Paris in 1924. But did he? What is the evidence?

Did Hoppé serve in any capacity during WW2, for example, in the Home Guard?

Hoppé’s post-WW2 letters indicate that he moved frequently, and lived in rented houses. Also, it is possible that he resided for a time in Bath. Is there any evidence for these surmises?

Mick would be pleased to receive comments or answers to g.m.gidley@leeds.ac.uk

Mick Gidley © 2012 

School of English

University of Leeds

Leeds LS2 9JT

England, UK

Mick Gidley is writing a study of Hoppé, parts of which have appeared in journals or as contributions to books.

                                           All images are copyright protected and may not be copied or reproduced without prior permission


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