Untitled [Captain Gardner K. Wonson House], ca. 1923–28
Charcoal on wove paper
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas
During the 1920s, Edward Hopper crystallized his mature style through etchings, watercolors, and drawings such as this one. On a visit to Gloucester, Massachusetts, Hopper drew this Second-Empire-style home, an architectural design characterized by a mansard roof and dormer windows. Hopper chose to depict Captain Gardner K. Wonson’s home, which was built in 1873, from the back, exploring the way sunlight created shadows on the roof and windows.
Edward Hopper (1882–1967) was raised in a town on the Hudson River, where he developed an enduring love of nautical life. When he graduated from high school in 1899, his parents, supportive of his artistic aspirations, implored him to study commercial illustration rather than pursue an economically uncertain career in fine art. After a short time studying illustration, he turned to painting and drawing and began taking portrait and still-life classes from William Merritt Chase (1849–1916). Hopper worked as an illustrator in New York but spent his summers painting in rural New England. Beginning in 1930, Hopper and his wife spent their summers painting in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where they built their own home in 1934. During the early 1930s, Hopper found ample subject matter for both his oils and watercolors in Cape Cod. Once the area became too familiar, he was prompted to drive further afield. He traveled from Vermont to Mexico in search of inspiration. A feeling of loneliness and detachment pervaded Hopper’s works in the second half of his career. The harsh realism of his style was underscored by his preference for bright, shadow-casting light or the strange luminosity of dusk combined with artificial light.