Despite the bright blue sky and the seemingly serene subject matter of Edward Hopper, Hopper's treatment of shadows makes the picture somewhat ominous and uneasy. The shadowy façade of the cottage facing the viewer, with its black windows, is uninviting. Moreover, the shadows extend across the hill towards the viewer. It is as if the house has spread its darkness across the picture towards the viewer. See more
The perspective adds to the unease of the painting; the house rises above the viewer, dominating him.
The two architectural structures, the lighthouse and the cottage, are clearly the focal points of the painting. They contain meticulous detail, sharp edges and bright white highlights. The landscape, on the other hand, consists of only a few large shapes and therefore lacks detail. It has also been painted in a rougher style, so that the brushstrokes are still visible, and it has been rendered in more subtle, darker colours. The Cottage immediately draws the viewer's attention because Hopper has placed it directly in the centre of the painting.
Edward Hopper is one of the major figures of the American realist movement, with paintings such as House by the Railroad (1925) and Nighthawks (1942).
Born in 1882 in New York State, Edward Hopper entered the prestigious New York School of Art after his secondary education. He moved to New York in 1908 where he was hired as an illustrator for advertising campaigns. He soon tired of the job and exhibited paintings in his spare time. See more
Around 1915, he painted scenes of American life and in 1920, he presented his first exhibition at the Whitney Studio Club, which was a great success. In 1924 he married Josephine Verstille Nivison.
His particular style, made of simple forms and rather dark colours, plays on the contrasts between light and shadow. Hopper managed to diversify his realistic approach, with staged landscapes, sometimes urban and sometimes rural. The characters he paints often inspire an impression of solitude and exclusion. Most of his oil paintings reflect a country in the throes of economic and social change. In 1945, Edward Hopper was admitted to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He received numerous awards and honours, including the title of Doctor of Fine Arts from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1955.