EMIL OTTO HOPPE (1878-1972)

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SCHOOL BOY WITH LUGGAGE, PADDINGTON STATION, LONDON, 1933 by EMIL OTTO HOPPE (1878-1972) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

SCHOOL BOY WITH LUGGAGE, PADDINGTON STATION, LONDON, 1933

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THE HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT, SEEN FROM VICTORIA TOWER, LONDON, 1934 by EMIL OTTO HOPPE (1878-1972) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

THE HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT, SEEN FROM VICTORIA TOWER, LONDON, 1934

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TWO GENTLEMEN ON THROGMORTON STREET, LONDON, 1937 by EMIL OTTO HOPPE (1878-1972) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

TWO GENTLEMEN ON THROGMORTON STREET, LONDON, 1937

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THE POOL, LONDON, 1934 by EMIL OTTO HOPPE (1878-1972) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

THE POOL, LONDON, 1934

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ALDOUS HUXLEY, 1922 by EMIL OTTO HOPPE (1878-1972) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

ALDOUS HUXLEY, 1922

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FEEDING THE BIRDS IN WINTER, ST JAMES PARK, LONDON, 1919 by EMIL OTTO HOPPE (1878-1972) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

FEEDING THE BIRDS IN WINTER, ST JAMES PARK, LONDON, 1919

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Emil Otto Hoppe was hugely celebrated in his lifetime. Indeed, he has been described as the most famous photographers in the world in the 1920s by Bill Jay, and declared to be the Master by Cecil Beaton. Despite this, much of Hoppe's work has only recently been rediscovered.

Hoppe was born in Munich on the 14 April 1878. He moved to London at the turn of the century, where he began experimenting with photography. He was admitted as a member of the Royal Photographic Society in 1903, and opened a portrait photography studio in Baron's Court in 1907. In 1913 he took on the lease of 7 Cromwell Place, the previous home of Sir John Everett Millais.

Among the many celebrated literary and art world figures Hoppe photographed were George Bernard Shaw, Aldous Huxley, H.G. Wells, Rudyard Kipling, A.A. Milne, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound and Jacob Epstein. In the early 1920s he was invited to photograph Queen Mary, King George VI and other members of the royal family. Frequently working with narrow depth of field against a neutral background, Hoppe pared down his portraits in order to emphasise his sitters' individuality.

In 1919, Hoppe began to travel the world in search of new subjects to photograph. He journeyed to Eastern Europe, Africa, the United States, New Zealand, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore and India. The resulting photographs were published in a number of books, including The Book Fair Women , which included international sitters from differing backgrounds and cultures. The book introduced groundbreaking ideas about beauty; shattering the outdated view held in Britain that true beauty was a Western beauty.

Hoppe was also a prolific street, landscape and travel photographer. In the 1930s Hoppe increasingly went out on the streets to look for interesting people and situations to photograph. The results were often published in photo-series featured in magazines such as Weekly Illustrated . In order to photograph unobtrusively, Hoppe would wrap the quietest camera available to him, a fixed-focus Brownie, in a paper bag with a slit for the lens. This enabled him to photograph daily London life with remarkable spontaneity.

Hoppe was obscured from photographic history when, aged 76, he decided to sell five decades worth of work to a London picture library, the Mansell Collection. Filed anonymously by subject, Hoppe's work lost all notion of authorship. His work remained in the collection for over thirty years after Hoppe's death, and was not fully accessible to the public until the collection closed down and was acquired by new owners in the United States.

In 1994 his work was retrieved from the picture library, and reunited with the Hoppe family archive of photographs and biographical documents. After many years of cataloguing, conservation and research, E. O. Hoppe's huge body of work is now gaining the recognition it deserves.

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