Painted in 1924, "New York Pavements" is a fine example of Edward Hopper's fascination with architecture. The painting offers a bird's eye view of a house built with large grey bricks and a portico supported by four columns. The building appears to be a row house in a neoclassical style inspired by Greek and Roman architecture. The house appears to be in an upper-class neighbourhood. See more
Not only are the three steps leading up to the house and the pavement scrupulously clean, but a nanny in traditional 1900s dress is walking her child.
The time of year for the painting could be late summer or early autumn. It is still warm enough for one of the windows of the house to be open, but a breeze is blowing the white net curtain and the blue headdress of the nanny. It also seems to be a cool day, as the nanny is wearing a cape. The pram the nanny is pushing is of a rather unusual design. While most prams have a push bar at the foot end of the pram, the pram in this painting has the push bar at the head.
The season is clearly summer, as a window in the house is open and the young woman is dressed in a light blue dress and wearing a wide-brimmed hat to protect her from the sun. She seems to be waiting for someone as her hand is resting against one of the columns and she is looking into the distance.
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.