Anne and Joe—79 and 84, respectively—are artists. Their story winds and wanders, as artists’ tend to. They are searchers and seekers. Curious folk. “Life is an exploration of how things work,” says Anne. “We both have always been curious people, probably from having been brought up by parents who were curious people. My father, who was a painter, was always reading, doing something.”
The couple met while working at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) during the 1950s. It’s no surprise they connected, having led, to that point, curiously parallel lives. Their childhoods were spent in New York—his in Chappaqua, hers in the Catskills. Both flunked out of Ivy League schools: she from Cornell, he from Princeton. Growing up, they both visited Cape Cod with their families. “We’re good friends and always have been,” Anne says. “We both read the same books. We’d quote Kipling to each other even before we were going out and we’d laugh like fools. Both of our parents were educated people—people who had hobbies and had interests outside of their houses, their children, and their partners.”
For both Anne and Joe, exposure to nature in their youth—through farming and through active family lives spent outdoors—served as a strong influence. Anne was raised on a farm. Joe’s family spent a few weeks every summer in a cottage on Chappaquiddick—a peaceful, quiet place with no electricity and days filled with reading, sitting, and sailing. Anne is the collector. Joe is the doer. They both delight in the basic actions that fill up a day: baking bread, farming the land behind their home, creating beautiful objects by hand, chatting with friends who stop by for a cup of coffee and some homemade jelly or jam.
Anne credits her taste for antiques to her father, James Hopkins, who, having grown up in a wealthy New York household of family heirlooms, chauffeurs, and gardeners, taught her much of what she knows today about furniture. “You learn the difference between Sheraton, Heppelwhite, and Chippendale, Queen Anne and Victorian,” she says. “You don’t consider anything antique after 1840, when everything all of a sudden became made by machine. Before that, everything was done by hand. The quality of it was huge, not because it’s prettier or glitzier, but because it will probably be around for longer. So there is a quality difference in old antiques that is significant. Pottery was hand thrown. Fabric was hand woven. The old glass was hand blown. Furniture was hand made. I’ve got some wonderful sheets made in French convents out of hand spun, hand grown, hand woven flax. It is lovely, soft, drapes well, and it’s durable.”