Hopper's painting here, Prospect Street, Gloucester, is a simple, wholesome street scene, quaint as Cincinnati. A row of sunlit houses stand on a street deserted except for a dark green car hunkered along the curb. Two church tops are visible on the horizon. A flesh-toned sidewalk runs before the houses beside the gray road along the bottom of the painting on which you seem to be standing to view the scene. A museum curator called the painting, "a distillation of the essential American residence street anywhere."
The car in the street is sinister--like one that Edward G. Robinson might drive in a getaway in one of his crime movies. This painting was in fact purchased by Robinson in 1940. Appropriate that Hopper, who loved movies, should have a painting bought by a film star.
In an unusual move, Hopper made this oil painting after rendering the same subject in watercolor. The watercolor version of this scene was painted six years earlier, during the last summer he spent in Gloucester. This oil rendition of the scene always disappointed him.
The Hopper painting hangs right next to Grant Wood's Daughters of Revolution, perhaps the most famous painting in the collection (and also originally owned by Edward G. Robinson). The three ladies in Wood's painting might own three of the houses in Hopper's painting. All look like East Coast blue bloods: with dark, pursed lips, and long, chickenlike necks. Their eyes squint with scrutiny or near-sightedness.
The woman on the right has George Washington's face--literally. Wood painted it in as a joke. The ladies in the painting stand in front of the famous painting George Washington Crossing the Delaware, painted by Emmanuel Leutze, a German. Legend has it that this painting represented Wood's retaliation on the Cedar Rapids chapter of the D.A.R. for protesting the German manufacturing of a memorial window Wood had designed to commemorate soldiers lost during World War I. Wood himself painted the words "Daughters of Revolution" along the bottom of the frame. He deliberately omitted the word "American." "On the one hand," Wood observed, "[the D.A.R.] were trying to establish themselves as an aristocracy of birth, on the other they were trying to support a democracy."