2011 44¢ Edward Hopper
Issue Date: August 24, 2011
City: Provincetown, MA
Printed By: Avery Dennison
Printing Method: Photogravure
Bathed in shades of blue, The Long Leg captures mankind’s fascination with the sea, and is part of the American Treasures Series.
The oil painting by Edward Hopper pictures Provincetown Harbor’s historic Long Point Lighthouse. A solitary sailboat glides across the waters off Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The lonely lighthouse, calm waters, and gentle sails portray a sense of peace, seclusion, and tranquility.
The painting radiates a feeling of timelessness as well, as centuries fade against a backdrop of sand dunes and endless sky. On a quiet afternoon, one can almost picture the Pilgrims visiting Provincetown Harbor in 1620... Charles Darby, the lightkeeper who manned the lantern during the 1800s... and the poppies that once splashed color across the grounds.
The artist who painted The Long Leg is part of Provincetown Harbor’s history as well. During the 1920s, Edward Hopper began to earn recognition for his art. Hopper purchased a vehicle and escaped New York’s summer heat by spending time on Cape Cod, where he and his wife built a cottage.
Completed in 1935, The Long Leg is one of several acclaimed works by Hopper that transport viewers into his New England sanctuary filled with nature’s serenity.
Edward Hopper – Artist
Realist painter Edward Hopper was born on July 22, 1882, in Upper Nyack, New York.
Hopper displayed a talent for drawing by the time he was five. His parents encouraged him to pursue art, buying him supplies and books. By the time he was a teenager, Hopper was drawing and painting and making political cartoons.
While in high school, Hopper planned to become a naval architect, but by the time he graduated he decided to pursue a career as an artist. His parents continued to support his ambitions, but also wanted him to have a way to make money, so they encouraged him to study commercial art. He went on to study at the New York School of Art and Design under William Merritt Chase and Robert Henri. Henri in particular had a significant influence on Hopper. He urged his students to “make a stir in the world,” and “forget about art and paint pictures of what interests you in life.”
Hopper took a part time job in 1905 creating cover designs for trade magazines. He grew bored with illustration and made three trips to Paris to study the art there. While most American artists were exploring the abstract cubist work, Hopper was inspired by realist art.
Hopper then returned to America and rented a studio in New York City. He worked as a freelance illustrator while trying to find painting inspiration. In 1912 he went to Gloucester, Massachusetts and began painting outdoor scenes. The following year, he sold his first painting at the famed Armory Show. Around this time Hopper also began illustrating movie posters, started etching, and later produced posters for the war effort. When he found time, he produced outdoor watercolors of New England.
Hopper began to gain some recognition in the late 1910s and early 1920s. In 1918 he won an award for his war poster, Smash the Hun. And in 1923 he received two awards for his etchings. That same year he re-met fellow artist Josephine Nivison and they were married the following year. Josephine would go on to manage his career and serve as his model for many paintings. Hopper’s career thrived with Josephine’s help arranging exhibitions. After selling all of his watercolors at a one-man show, he finally felt comfortable enough to quit commercial illustration.
Much of Hopper’s work focused on American architecture. He was fascinated by the shadows created by turrets, towers, porches, and roofs. Hopped said that his “favorite thing was printing sunlight on the side of a house.” His candid works often feature city streets, restaurants, movie theaters, storefronts, and homes as their subjects. Although the paintings appear to be straightforward scenes, most attempt to convey isolation and seclusion.
Hopper also did better during the Depression than most other artists. Several museums paid thousands of dollars for his works – he sold 30 paintings and 13 watercolors in one year alone. He enjoyed several decades of success, enabling him to have a home in New York City and a summer cottage in Cape Cod. He also purchased his first car so he could explore and find new painting inspiration.
Hopper’s health began to decline in the 1950s, though he continued to paint when he was well enough. He died in his New York City studio on May 16, 1967.