Evening Wind evokes a strange and uneasy atmosphere. The vulnerability and intimacy of the scene draw us in, but we are also kept at a distance, denied sight of the woman's face and the view to which that face is turned. The window opens onto complete blankness, as if the apartment were isolated in space, and whether the breeze is a cause of anxiety or pleasure it is impossible to tell. The depiction of a nude before a window was a favourite of Degas, whom both Hopper and Kitaj admired, and it recalls Rembrandt's late etched nudes, with their sense of small-scale drama and latent eroticism. But it is also a profoundly modern work - it could almost be a still from a Hitchcock film, dripping with suspense. Hopper was well aware of the power of ambiguity - he once said that the most important element in a picture cannot be explained. (Brian O'Doherty, American Masters: The Voice and the Myth, New York, Random House, 1973, p. 14). It was a sentiment with which Kitaj, who frequently explored themes of mystery and estrangement, would surely have sympathised.
Printmaking played a crucial role in Hopper's early development. At a time when his paintings weren't selling, his etchings proved popular with the public - Evening Wind garnered good reviews and in 1922 two impressions were sold for the respectable sum of $18 each. More importantly etching enabled him to develop his mature style - the monochrome technique allowed him to concentrate on composition and light, and the endless possibilities for re-working the copper plate enabled him to continually refine his scenes. Hopper said that after he had started making etchings his 'paintings began to crystallise' (Suzanne Burrey, Edward Hopper: 'The Emptying Spaces', Arts Digest, April 1st, 1955: 10). The great canvases of his later years, pared down and rendered starkly beautiful, owe a considerable debt to smaller scale works such as this.
The daughter of a Philadelphian businessman, Miss Mary Ellison (1856-1936) was part of a circle of young American expatriates in Paris in the 1870s. A portrait of her by Mary Cassat (c. 1880) hangs in the National Gallery of Art Washington.