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Rooms by the Sea

Artist: Edward Hopper
Created: 1951
Dimensions (cm): 101.6 x 73.7
Format: Oil on canvas
Location: Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, USA



In 1947, while seriously ill, Hopper painted a small wood panel of his boyhood home. The view is that of looking out through the house's front door. Two years later, he would fully realize this theme in Rooms By the Sea, a painting with a similar view, this time looking out the front door onto the ocean.

By the summer of 1949, Hopper was living in Truro, Massachusetts with his wife Jo, following a disappointing trip to Mexico and a creatively sterile spring. Their house was small, but had a spectacular view: the west side of the house looked out onto the ocean, towards Provincetown, some ten miles across Cape Cod Bay. Hopper began sketching views out the front door, similar to those of the wood panel painting of 1947. He began the canvas in late summer, and he gradually changed it as he worked, making it increasingly different from the reality of the view as he went. He removed the steps outside the door; he put the horizon on the sea; and he moved the sea itself further and further up, until, in the final version, it appears to come right up to the door.

Jo Hopper dubbed the painting the Jumping Off Place, and it is arguably a better title than Rooms By the Sea. The painting definitely evokes a feeling of impending departure. The mood of Hopper's 1947 wood panel painting is departure as well: that of leaving home and moving on. His intention in Rooms By the Sea is clearly to revise, revisit, and refine that same view. On Cape Cod, he had rediscovered that same mood that had surfaced two years earlier.

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