Maine Statehood stamp, with the painting “Sea at Ogunquit” by Edward Hopper. Image courtesy of U.S. Postal Service

An Edward Hopper painting of the Ogunquit coast and a photograph by Allen Rokach from Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay are poised to appear on U.S. Postal Service stamps sometime next year.

The stamps with Maine scenes are part of the postal service’s Forever series and among more than a dozen new stamps slated for release in 2020. The Maine Statehood stamp recognizes the 200th anniversary of the state’s birth and features the Hopper painting “Sea at Ogunquit,” which he painted the first time he came to Maine, in 1914. The original oil-on-canvas, roughly 24 inches by 30 inches, is in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

It’s a significant work in Hopper’s career. He painted it looking down along a cove at Ogunquit at mid-tide, casting the rocks in the foreground in shadows and those further out in the light of a sunny day. The orange rockweed contrasts with the sharp blue of the sea.

Hopper spent nine summers in Maine over 16 years, from 1914 to 1929. He started in Ogunquit, went to Monhegan, and painted in Rockland, Cape Elizabeth, Portland and on the Pemaquid peninsula. He exhibited “Sea at Ogunquit” in 1917 at the first exhibition of the American Society of Independent Artists in New York City. His success with the painting gave him incentive to pursue his original work instead of commercial work and to continue to include Maine as a subject.

The original painting was exhibited at Bowdoin College Museum of Art as part of the “Edward Hopper’s Maine” exhibition in 2011 and at the Ogunquit Museum of American Art in 2005. The stamp is set to be issued sometime in 2020, but the U.S. Postal Service is not saying when and said the images are subject to change. Maine became the 23rd state in the Union on March 15, 1820.

The statehood stamp is not welcome in some quarters. Barry Dana, former chief of the Penobscot Nation and cultural activist, shared Sen. Angus King’s Facebook post announcing the news of the stamp with this introduction: “Here’s senator angus king wanting to celebrate the removal of my ancestors from our homelands…he carries on this state’s 200 years of colonization.”

The stamp from the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is part of the postal service’s American Gardens series. The series includes photographs by Allen Rokach of botanic, estate and municipal gardens across America taken between 1996 and 2014.

“We’re excited about the news,” said Kris Folsom, director of marketing and communication at the gardens in Boothbay. “It’s an honor to be recognized on a postage stamp. We are in great company with a lot of other botanical gardens across the country. For us, it is being able to be visible to people who may not know about the gardens.”

In addition to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, the series includes images from the Biltmore Estate Gardens in North Carolina; Brooklyn Botanic Garden, New York; Chicago Botanic Garden; Dumbarton Oaks Garden, Washington, D.C.; The Huntington Botanical Gardens, California; Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park, Florida; Norfolk Botanical Garden, Virginia; Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, Ohio; and Winterthur Garden, Delaware.

Folsom’s looking forward to sending out mail with the new stamps whenever they become available in 2020. “Oh, we’ll be using them on all our correspondence,” she said.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.