Edward Hopper (1882-1967)
Edward Hopper (1882-1967)
Edward Hopper (1882-1967)
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Edward Hopper (1882-1967)
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Modern Icons: Property from an Important Private Collection
EDWARD HOPPER (1882-1967)

Prospect Street, Gloucester

EDWARD HOPPER (1882-1967)
Prospect Street, Gloucester
signed and inscribed 'Edward Hopper/Gloucester' (lower left)
watercolor on paper
14 x 20 (35.6 x 50.8 cm.)
Executed in 1928.
The artist.
Mr. & Mrs. John Clancy, New York, by 1971.
Mr. J.W. Outlaw, Jr.
Kennedy Galleries, Inc., New York.
Private collection.
Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Inc., New York.
Private collection, New York, 1992.
Christie’s, New York, 29 November 2007, lot 116, sold by the above.
Acquired by the present owner from the above.
G. Levin, Hopper's Places, New York, 1989, n.p., fig. 16, illustrated.
G. Levin, Edward Hopper: A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. II, New York, 1995, p. 181, no. W-212, illustrated.
G. Levin, Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography, New York, 1995, p. 256.
G. Levin, The Complete Watercolors of Edward Hopper, New York, 2001, p. 181, no. W-212, illustrated.
G. Souter, Edward Hopper: Light and Dark, New York, 2012, pp. 78-79, illustrated.
Rockland, Maine, William A. Farnsworth Library and Art Museum; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Edward Hopper, 1882-1967: Oils, Watercolors, Etchings, July 9-October 31, 1971, n.p., no. 30, illustrated.
New York, Kennedy Galleries, Inc., Edward Hopper at Kennedy Galleries, May 11-June 8, 1977, n.p., no. 13, illustrated.
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Edward Hopper: Art and Artist, September 16, 1980-January 18, 1981, no. 209.
London, Arts Council of Great Britain, Edward Hopper 1882-1967, February 11-March 29, 1981, p. 51, no. 126.
Washington, D.C., National Museum of American Art, Edward Hopper: The Watercolors, October 22, 1999-January 3, 2000, pp. 79-81, 102-03, 127, 158, 170, no. 32, fig. 85, illustrated.
Boston, Massachusetts, Museum of Fine Arts; Washington, D.C., National Museum of Art, Edward Hopper, May 6, 2007-January 21, 2008, pp. 74, 247, no. 31, illustrated.
Madrid, Spain, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza; Paris, Grand Palais, Hopper, June 12, 2012-January 28, 2013, pp. 39, 170-71, 363, no. 104, illustrated.
Sale room notice
Please note that this work has been requested for the forthcoming exhibition being organized by 511 Projects titled Edward Hopper and Guy Pène du Bois: Painting the Real, which will originate at the Polk Museum of Art in Lakeland, Florida, from December 17, 2022-March 21, 2023.

It has also been requested for the Cape Ann Museum's forthcoming exhibition titled Edward Hopper & Cape Ann: Creating an American Landscape, scheduled to take place from July 22, 2023 to October 16, 2023 with a possible second venue from November 10, 2023 to February 2, 2024.

Brought to you by

Tylee Abbott
Tylee Abbott Vice President, Head of American Art

Lot Essay

With Prospect Street, Gloucester, Edward Hopper masterfully manipulates his medium to convey an everyday scene that is simultaneously loyal to its location and transcendent of its commonplace subject. Depicting a vista looking downward from 98-102 Prospect Street with the Portuguese church, Our Lady of Good Voyage in the distance, Prospect Street, Gloucester blends traditional New England architecture with subjective perspective to create an image that is perpetually fresh, modern and unabashedly American. Indeed, the locale was such a memorable one for Hopper that he returned it again in oil painting Sun on Prospect Street (1934, Cincinnati Museum of Art, Cincinnati, Ohio)

The present work is one of thirteen watercolors Hopper executed in Gloucester, Massachusetts in 1928. Hopper first visited the town with fellow artist Leon Kroll in the summer of 1912. The town had long been celebrated as an artists' colony by luminaries such as Fitz Henry Lane, Childe Hassam and Maurice Prendergast for its crystalline light and scenic waterfront. Hopper spent his first trip capturing various views of this scenic Cape Ann port in oil and was so entranced by the beauty of the place that he would return four more times, in the summers of 1923, 1924, 1926 and 1928. His 1923 trip was pivotal in his career as it was at this point that he began using watercolor. The aqueous medium transformed Hopper's work, instilling it with an immediacy and spontaneity absent in his more laborious oils. As a result, today Hopper’s Gloucester watercolors are considered some of his finest output.

Hopper tended to paint his watercolors en plein air, beginning with a basic pencil drawing and filling it in with washes of color to provide a fresh luminosity. Simultaneously loose and structured, detailed and mildly reductive, in Prospect Street, Gloucester Hopper employed a simple, earnest technique to create a complex composition. The artist’s application of the thin, pale washes is extremely controlled—each contained within its structural boundaries. This judicious application of the wayward medium is characteristic of Hopper's mature style, as is the largely neutral palette highlighted by strong touches of color in the chimney and curtain. The prominent placement of the automobile at the right also demonstrates Hopper’s interest in American technological advancements. Indeed, just a year earlier in 1927, Hopper and his wife Jo purchased their first car, a 1925 used Dodge, which allowed the couple more freedom to travel independent of public transportation.

At first glance, Prospect Street, Gloucester appears to be a quaint and inviting scene of a typically American street. Upon closer examination, however, the absence of human presence and the largely shuttered windows are suggestive of Hopper’s later fascination with the theme of modern isolation. The partially cropped house to the left and the cars to the right direct one's attention to the street, which leads to nowhere in particular and is lined with houses that are largely inaccessible. The concentration on the play of light and shadow on the pale houses, as well as the emphasis on atmosphere imbues the work with a sense of temporal beauty. An introvert, Hopper avoided not only the social aspects of the town’s artists’ colony, but reflected his personality in established pictorial themes. As the artist himself remembered, "At Gloucester, when everyone else would be painting ships and the waterfront, I'd just go around looking at houses. It is a solid looking town. The roofs are very bold, the cornices bolder. The dormers cast very position shadows." (as quoted in G. Levin, Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography, New York, 2007, p. 169) As in Prospect Street, Gloucester, the local architecture is a prominent motif in Hopper's Gloucester works and one that would reassert itself throughout his career.

Hopper's choice and his earnest and slightly romantic representation of seemingly mundane subject matter in works such as Prospect Street, Gloucester set him apart from his contemporaries and allowed him to create a new and uniquely American iconography. Indeed, Hopper’s work has been admired by a myriad of Post War & Contemporary artists including Richard Diebenkorn, William de Kooning, Mark Tobey, among others. Upon viewing Hopper’s work at the Whitney, the famed painter Mark Rothko declared “I hate diagonals, but I like Hopper’s diagonals. They’re the only diagonals I like.” (as quoted in G. Levin, Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography, New York, 2007, p. 731). Characteristic of Hopper's best watercolors, Prospect Street, Gloucester is triumphant in its perennial modernity and helps cement the artist’s legacy for generations to come.

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