A master of scenes of quiet contemplation — Edward Hopper — was born today

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Nighthawks (1942)

July 22, On This Day

Edward Hopper

Acclaimed as one of the most well-known names in American art, Edward Hopper was a realist painter (oil and watercolours) as well as printmaker in etching, born on July 22, 1882.

Office in a Small City (1953)

Hopper grew up with a view of the Hudson River in New York — he was initially trained as a commercial illustrator and began his artistic career taking lessons in illustration, before transferring to the New York School of Art in 1900. There, he studied under the eminent American artists William Merritt Chase and Robert Henri.

Night on the El Train (1918)

He fell in love with Paris during his formative years and considered himself an Impressionist through much of his life — though often grouped with the American Realists and “American Scene” painters. Hopper had a strong interest in the work of Edgar Degas. He gained his first financial success from etching. Interestingly, Hopper was also a celebrated poster artist during the First World War.

Hopper’s prizewinning poster, Smash the Hun (1919)

Hopper’s early work was completed mostly en plein air or from live models — later Hopper’s visual vocabulary remained remarkably consistent from the mid-1920s until his death in 1967.

Nighthawks (1942)

Hopper’s most common subject was the solitary figure — “often misinterpreted as a symbol for his own feelings of loneliness, these figures more likely represent Hopper’s preference for quiet and thoughtful self-examination”, say reports on him. He loved inexpensive diners and lunch counters.

New York Interior (1921)

His wife, Josephine Nivison, was his favorite model and was largely responsible for his initial success, contributing much to his work, both as a life-model and as a creative partner.

Alfred Hitchcock modeled the famous house in Pyscho (1960) off of Hopper’s House by the Railroad (1925, Museum of Modern Art, New York).

Hopper is often referenced as a significant inspiration for contemporary photographers. He was praised for ‘complete verity’ in the America he portrayed.

Chop Suey (1929), Barney A. Ebsworth Collection