And who was Edward Hopper? Born in 1882 to religious parents of Dutch descent in the Hudson River town of Nyack, New York, Hopper grew up loving water and boats, which appear in many of his paintings. He reached the ungainly height of over six feet by the age of twelve, resulting in the usual story of a teacher asking him to sit down when he already was. Maybe because of his freakish height (he topped out at about 6'5"), Edward grew withdrawn and remained taciturn throughout his life. Also possibly related, he developed a gift for expressing himself through drawing.
At eighteen, he left for New York City to study art, and afterwards traveled to Europe three times, returning with his Impressionist-style canvases showing his fascination with the unique light and sordid street life he saw there. One such canvas sold in the famous Armory Show of 1913 that introduced European Modernism to America. But he didn't sell another oil on canvas for ten years. Meanwhile, he took up etching, and a show of those at the Frank K.M. Rehn Gallery sold out. Rehn put up a show of Hopper's watercolors. That show nearly sold out, and Rehn remained Hopper's lifelong representative after that. Now established as a fine artist with a dealer, Hopper turned his efforts back to oil paint and coupled the luminescence of his watercolors with the urban scenes, minimal compositions, and human figures of his etchings. He had found his mature style and subject: oil paintings depicting America and its people.
He moved into a studio atop 3 Washington Square North in lower Manhattan in 1913 and called that home until he died there in 1967, though he later spent summers at a studio he had built in Cape Cod. In 1924, he married fellow aging art school classmate Josephine Nivison, a painter in her own right.
[Portrait of Jo by their art teacher Robert Henri]
She was as short as Hopper was tall and as social as he was retiring. Jo's journals and their visitors' tales told of constant bickering and savage fights. Yet they remained married until death did them part, and she posed for every woman character in his mature oil canvases.