Edward Hopper, ‘The Bengal Writer’, ca. 1900, Thurston Royce Gallery of Fine Art, LTD.

Throughout his life, Hopper was a prodigious reader, delving into Turgenev while still a teen-ager and in later life he was especially fond of the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, Robert Frost, and Wallace Stevens. This drawing is a reflection of Hopper's literary interests, as he attempted to visualize the internalized life of the mind. The intense mental activity of the writer-subject is made palpable through his single-minded gaze directed to the page on which he works. He is deep in thought and intent on getting the right words down on the page he holds in his right hand. This solitary figure is presented in an informal pose and casts an abbreviated shadow. By isolating the 'figure from the background, the writer takes on an aura of independence and self-reliance and stresses the interior quality of his working thought process. The subject stands in a 'potentially' romantic setting, as the viewer is subtly encouraged to fill in the featureless space by stretching his own imaginative powers. Hopper again used this pose of an intense gaze several decades later in the 1952 conte' on paper which was a preparatory sketch for his oil in the Hirshhorn Museum, Hotel by a Railroad.

Signature: Inscribed in pen and ink, lower left

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