EDWARD HOPPER (1882-1967)
EDWARD HOPPER (1882-1967)
EDWARD HOPPER (1882-1967)
3 More
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more Visionary: The Paul G. Allen Collection
EDWARD HOPPER (1882-1967)

Gloucester Roofs

EDWARD HOPPER (1882-1967)
Gloucester Roofs
signed 'Edward Hopper/Gloucester' (lower right)
watercolor and pencil on paper
14 x 20 in. (35.6 x 50.8 cm.)
Executed in 1928
Frank K.M. Rehn Galleries, New York (1928).
Edward Wales Root, Clinton, New York (acquired from the above, 1929).
Mrs. and Mrs. Wilson H. and Mary D. Kierstead, New York and London (after 1962).
Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Inc., New York (1981).
Mr. and Mrs. James A. and Edith Hall Fisher, Pittsburgh (acquired from the above).
Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Inc., New York.
Acquired from the above by the late owner, 2016.
Record Book I, p. 68.
W. Enstice and M. Peters, Drawing: Space, Form and Expression, Englewood Cliffs, 1990, p. 127 (illustrated).
G. Levin, Edward Hopper: A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. II, New York, 1995, p. 177, no. W-208 (illustrated in color).
G. Levin, The Complete Watercolors of Edward Hopper, New York, 2001, p. 177, no. W-208 (illustrated in color).
“Preserved in Paint: Hopper Works Capture a Gloucester That Some Fear is Fading” in Boston Globe, 27 May 2007, p. N7.
New York, Frank K.M. Rehn Galleries, Exhibition by Edward Hopper, January-February 1929, no. 21.
New York, Balzac Gallery, American Watercolors, October 1931.
Springfield Museum of Fine Arts, International Water Colors, June-July 1932, no. 31.
Washington, D.C., National Museum of American Art and Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Edward Hopper: The Watercolors, October 1999-March 2000, pp. 81-82, 86, 97 and 158, no. 88 (illustrated in color, p. 82).
Boston, Museum of Fine Arts; Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art and Art Institute of Chicago, Edward Hopper, May 2007-May 2008, pp. 78-79, no. 34 (illustrated in color, p. 78).
Special notice
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. Where Christie's has provided a Minimum Price Guarantee it is at risk of making a loss, which can be significant, if the lot fails to sell. Christie's therefore sometimes chooses to share that risk with a third party. In such cases the third party agrees prior to the auction to place an irrevocable written bid on the lot. The third party is therefore committed to bidding on the lot and, even if there are no other bids, buying the lot at the level of the written bid unless there are any higher bids. In doing so, the third party takes on all or part of the risk of the lot not being sold. If the lot is not sold, the third party may incur a loss. The third party will be remunerated in exchange for accepting this risk based on a fixed fee if the third party is the successful bidder or on the final hammer price in the event that the third party is not the successful bidder. The third party may also bid for the lot above the written bid. Third party guarantors are required by us to disclose to anyone they are advising their financial interest in any lots they are guaranteeing. However, for the avoidance of any doubt, if you are advised by or bidding through an agent on a lot identified as being subject to a third party guarantee you should always ask your agent to confirm whether or not he or she has a financial interest in relation to the lot.

Brought to you by

Max Carter
Max Carter Vice Chairman, 20th and 21st Century Art, Americas

Lot Essay

With Gloucester Roofs, 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 the stairs nearby Winchester Street in Gloucester, Massachusetts, Gloucester Roofs blends traditional New England architecture with subjective perspective to create an image that is perpetually fresh, modern and unabashedly American.
The present work is one of thirteen watercolors Hopper executed in Gloucester in 1928. Hopper first visited the town with fellow artist Leon Kroll in the summer of 1912. The locale 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 Gloucester Roofs Hopper employed a simple, earnest technique to create a complex composition. The artist’s application of both pale and rich 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 touches of stronger color. Hopper used the unique vantage point depicting an elevated perspective in some of his most successful oils, including City Roofs (1932, Whitney Museum of American Art) and House at Dusk (1935, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond).
At first glance, Gloucester Roofs appears to be a simple birds eye vista of a typical New England town. Upon closer examination, however, the absence of human presence and the largely shuttered windows are suggestive of Hopper’s fascination with the theme of modern isolation. 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 artist colony, but also the 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 positive shadows." (as quoted in G. Levin, Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography, New York, 2007, p. 169) As in Gloucester Roofs, the local architecture is a prominent motif in Hopper's Gloucester works and one that would reassert itself throughout his career.
Hopper's earnest and slightly romantic representation of seemingly mundane subject matter in works such as Gloucester Roofs 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” (quoted in G. Levin, Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography, New York, 2007, p. 731). Characteristic of Hopper's best watercolors, Gloucester Roofs is triumphant in its perennial modernity and helps cement the artist’s legacy for generations to come.

More from Visionary: The Paul G. Allen Collection Part II

View All
View All