Edward Hopper A Woman in the Sun 1961

Edward Hopper
A Woman in the Sun 1961
Oil on canvas
101.6 x 152.4 cm

50th Anniversary Gift of Mr and Mrs Albert Hackett in honour of Edith and Lloyd Goodrich
© Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Painted four years before Hopper’s death, Sun in an Empty Room extends the metaphor so that light becomes a presence in itself. Devoid of any figure, the room is nonetheless inhabited. Asked what he intended to express here, Hopper simply replied ‘Myself.’ Light is what saves Hopper’s work from nihilism. It offers the possibility of redemption, a ray of hope in the otherwise grim reality of the everyday.

The paintings here, made in his last years, are more stylised than earlier canvases, yet the themes they explore remain consistent. The familiar motifs appear - the solitary figure gazing through a window, the fall of light and shade, the spectator watching some unseen performance. Hopper recognised this in himself, and commented: ‘The germ… is always found in the earlier. The nucleus around which the artist’s intellect builds his work is himself… and this changes little from birth to death. What he once was, he always is.’

Two Comedians Hopper’s final painting, a man and woman, widely assumed to represent Hopper and his wife, appear on stage in Pierrot costumes to bow out in a theatrical farewell.