The Locomotive, 1923
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas
Like many of his contemporary New York City artists, Edward Hopper was fascinated by everyday vignettes drawn from his urban surroundings. Trains and railroad tracks, which he sketched even as a child, were an enduring subject in his work. For Hopper they seemed to suggest the passage of time; in this print, he sensitively rendered the details of a classic steam engine, soon to be replaced by more streamlined models.
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, 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.