Discover the Story Behind Edward Loper Sr.’s “Alapocas Run” Painting
Edward Loper Sr.’s “Alapocas Run” / Photo by Melissa Jacobs
The 1999 painting by Edward Loper Sr. that once hung in Joe Biden’s house is now available in the Stuart Kingston Galleries in Greenville.
Two of Delaware’s most famous native sons are linked by a painting. In 2010, the “Alapocas Run” was exhibited by Edward Loper Sr. in the Number One Observatory Circle, where Joe Biden served as vice president. Now it’s back in Delaware – and for sale in the Stuart Kingston Galleries in Greenville. Owner Edward Stein and curator Pat McGrath hope to find the perfect new home for the 1999 painting.
McGrath, a longtime Loper fan, notes that the artist is getting hot nationally thanks to the long overdue focus on black artists. At a recent auction in New York, a Loper painting sold for $ 13,750, more than twice the price for his work a few years ago.
Born in 1916, Loper began his career on the streets of Wilmington, setting up his easel for outdoor work. It became part of the Works Progress Administration founded by President Franklin Roosevelt to employ millions of Americans – including artists – during the Great Depression. Loper then studied at the Barnes Foundation, which later acquired several of his paintings. He also had exhibitions in Delaware museums and private galleries.
Although Loper’s work now hangs in the Smithsonian Institution, he missed national recognition during his lifetime. Although he had an art dealer in New York City, he never had a big show. “If that happened, it would have changed the course of his career,” says McGrath.
Such recognition only came about at least a decade ago. “Even then, it was slow,” says McGrath. “Loper’s works were sold in major auction houses, but they weren’t at the prices they should be for the quality of the work.”
SKG has other Loper pieces for sale including some easily recognizable Delaware landscapes. And there are hundreds of his paintings in private collections. “The best work doesn’t go up for sale because people keep it,” says Stein. “They love it, know its worth and hold on to it.”
McGrath has his own Loper piece at home. “Under A Blue Moon, October 31, 1944” shows Loper’s Wilmington neighborhood. Full of rich, dark colors and an almost palpable sense of foreboding, it was the first painting Loper completed after his first wife died in childbirth. McGrath compares it to Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”. It could go for a lot of money. “But I’m not going to sell it,” says McGrath.