In the summer of 1930, Edward Hopper and his wife, Jo, rented a small cottage in the town of Truro just south of Cape Cod. Once a great whaling center, Hopper was as much attracted to Truro's rich seafaring history as to its virgin lands, as yet untainted by the development that had enveloped much of Cape Cod.
Since the early 1920s, the Hoppers spent their summers in Gloucester or Cape Elizabeth where the artist immersed himself in developing what would become trademark scenes of American architecture that explored the wonderfully nuanced native characteristics of small-town life. In contrast, Hopper spent his first summer on the Cape exploring the sandy dunes and vast swaths of barren land often dotted with solitary homes. This summer of 1930 proved to be extremely productive; Hopper, who often painted on the spot, developed several watercolors and canvases, including Hills, South Truro (1930, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio) and Burly Cobb's House, South Truro (1930-33, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York).
Dune at Truro proves a strong companion to examples such as these, and is a splendid example of Hopper's work during this first excursion on the Cape. An ephemeral light bathes the sandy hills, which reveal a graceful weathering of time and the enduring presence of the ocean's waves. Rich layers of green atop the hills and the crystalline blue sky further contribute to the quiet mood and lingering sense of isolation--attributes for which Hopper is best known. Truro and the Cape were to become a permanent source of inspiration for the artist as he continued his explorations of light, land, and architecture. In 1933, Edward and Jo purchased land in South Truro and built a small home, which they continued to visit for the remainder of their lives.