Edward Hopper, ‘Figure and House Sketch’, ca. 1900, Thurston Royce Gallery of Fine Art, LTD.

This sheet contains two separate, seemingly unrelated subjects, but Hopper may have placed them together on the same sheet to represent in interior and exterior of the same location. The juxtapositions of the two distinct compositions may have been necessitated by the scarcity of drawing paper. Both drawings appear to have been rapidly sketched with an economy of line from direct observation. The drawing on the top half of the sheet presents the diagonal lines of a dance hall interior. The large central couple is loosely built up with a few vertical lines, which stress their closeness, and functions to meld them into a single form. A second dancing couple to their left echoes their slow rhythmic movements, while a collapsing couple anchors the right side of the drawing. The leaning positions of the bodies suggests that these three couples may represent the remaining finalists of a long dance marathon. The subject of the lower drawing is exterior architecture. It is evident that his art was developing a strong structural and architectural interest, but this sketch of the upper-storey corner of a box-like building is sparing in detail. The two windows and overhanging roof, which define the structure, are here relegated to the far-left margin of the sheet. The wedge-shaped geometrical form on the right may represent the triangular roof form of the building as seen from above. Taken together, the two sketches typify the lightness of touch and clarity of Hopper's handling of both interior and exterior geometric form.

Signature: Unsigned.

The artist until 1967; to his widow, Jo Hopper, until 1968; to private collection, until the present.

About Edward Hopper

Edward Hopper defined 20th-century realism with his austere, eerie scenes that conveyed the alienation and isolation of modern life. Nighthawks (1942), a painting of three customers sitting at the counter of a diner late at night, is among his most famous works. The illusion of light pervades his paintings, which depict late 19th-century architecture, coastal views, and scenes of the city. Hopper’s characters, even when painted in groups, seem disconnected and lost in thought. "Great art is the outward expression of an inner life in the artist, and this inner life will result in his personal vision of the world," he said.

American, 1882-1967, Nyack, New York, based in Maine, Massachusetts and New York