1. Edward Hopper grew up in a small town with a view of the Hudson. From the bedroom window of his childhood home in Nyack, New York, Hopper had a clear view of the Hudson River and the many boats and racing yachts that sailed out of the port. At age 15, Hopper built himself a catboat with wood provided by his father who owned a dry goods store in town. As a boy, Hopper had considered a career as a naval architect given his love for sailing.
2. He was initially trained as a commercial illustrator. He began his artistic career taking lessons in illustration before transferring to the New York School of Art in 1900, where he studied under the eminent American artists William Merritt Chase and Robert Henri.
3. Hopper was an extremely tall man, standing at 6 feet 5 inches. By age 12, he had already reached 6 feet, a fact that certainly contributed to his growing sense of isolation and loneliness. His height and skinny physique, which had earned him the nickname “Grasshopper” from derisive classmates, reinforced his individualistic mindset.
4. He fell in love with Paris during his formative years. In October 1906, Hopper left for Paris where he lived with a French family at 48 Rue de Lille. Though he did not enroll at any school, he painted frequently outdoors and fell in love with the city and its culture: “I do not believe there is another city on earth so beautiful as Paris nor another people with such an appreciation of the beautiful as the French.”
5. Hopper considered himself an Impressionist through much of his life. Though often grouped with the American Realists and “American Scene” painters, he remarked in 1962: “I think I’m still an impressionist.”2 He was first introduced to the Impressionists in Paris by a friend from art school, Patrick Henry Bruce. Here, Hopper was specifically attracted to the works of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley and Camille Pissarro.
6. He gained his first financial success from etching. In 1915, Hopper learned the process of etching from his friend and fellow artist Martin Lewis. He would soon master the medium and gained much of his initial critical recognition from his prints.
7. He was a celebrated poster artist during the First World War. In 1918, Hopper won a poster competition held by the United States Shipping Board. The poster struck a chord with the wartime nation and earned the artist widespread notoriety amongst critics and the public.
8. Hopper did not have his first one-man show until the age of 37. In January 1920, he had an exhibition of paintings at the Whitney Studio Club, founded by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, at 147 West 4th Street. It was his friend, the artist Guy Pène du Bois, who had arranged for Hopper’s first solo exhibition.
9. His mature style came to fruition in the 1920s. From lessons learned during his years at the New York School of Art, Hopper’s early work was completed mostly en plein air or from live models. When he began to experiment with etching at the behest of Martin Lewis, he was forced to create images more often from memory. For the rest of his career, Hopper worked in a style that combined sketches from life with imagined compositions carefully constructed in the studio.
10. His artistic style remained relatively unchanged throughout his career. Unlike many of his peers who experimented with different artistic movements, Hopper’s visual vocabulary remained remarkably consistent from the mid-1920s until his death in 1967. His work cannot easily be divided into different stages of his life, as with many other artists.