Hopper lived in New York, but usually spent summers on the coast of Massachusetts or Maine, where he would set up an easel and paint outdoors. Working rapidly, he built a stockpile of imagery, elements of which would later reappear in paintings made back in the studio. The contrast between city and country life became a familiar aspect of his work. Lighthouse Hill was painted during a summer visit to a small island just off the coast in Maine. A related work, Captain Upton’s House, shows the same view from a different angle, with the house in the foreground and the lighthouse tower appearing behind its roof.
The lighthouse was a motif that fascinated Hopper. With its intermittent beam penetrating even the blackest night, it is a fitting emblem for an artist obsessed with light and shadow. It is of course, also a well-known symbol for loneliness - that all-pervading mood that creeps into a Hopper painting like sea mist. Hopper’s wife Josephine even wrote of her husband: ‘Those lighthouses are self-portraits’. But while the particularly dramatic vantage points of these two works imbue them with symbolic potential, most of the landscapes of this period are straightforward scenic vistas.