Edward Hopper: Landscapes

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.