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Mary Hoover Aiken
Café Fortune Teller
oil on canvas
Canvas: 33 5/8 × 28 7/8 inches (85.4 × 73.3 cm)Framed: 35 × 30 1/8 × 1 inches (88.9 × 76.5 × 2.5 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of friends of Mary Hoover Aiken.
Accession Number
Born Mary Augusta Hoover in western New York and raised in Washington, D.C., Mary Hoover Aiken showed early artistic promise and earned the opportunity to study at the Corcoran School of Art and under such notable artists as Charles Webster Hawthorne and George Luks. Although the style of Café Fortune Teller evokes American scene painting, the work was completed on the island of Ibiza just prior to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. This self-portrait shows the artist reading her own fortune amidst the bustle of a café.

In 1936, Mary Hoover met the Savannah-born poet Conrad Aiken, whom she married in 1937. Her later works included portraits of famed author T.S. Eliot and British painter Edward Burra, and she also had solo exhibitions at the Telfair in 1964 and 1975.