Edward Hopper trained under Robert Henri from 1900 to 1906. Between 1906 and 1910 the artist made three trips to Europe. Hopper exhibited at the Armory Show in 1913; then, until 1923 he abandoned painting, earning his living by commercial illustration.
After 1923, Hopper gained widespread recognition as a central exponent of American Scene painting: expressing the loneliness, vacuity, and stagnation of town life. Yet Hopper remained always an individualist: “I don't think I ever tried to paint the American scene; I'm trying to paint myself.”
Edward Hopper painted American landscapes and cityscapes with a disturbing truth, expressing the world around him as a chilling, alienating, and often vacuous place. Everybody in a Hopper picture appears terribly alone. He soon gained a widespread reputation as the artist who gave visual form to the loneliness and boredom of life in the big city. This was something new in art, perhaps an expression of the sense of human hopelessness that characterized the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Edward Hopper has something of the lonely gravity peculiar to Thomas Eakins, a courageous fidelity to life as he feels it to be. He also shares Winslow Homer's power to recall the feel of things. For Hopper, this feel is insistently low-key and ruminative. He shows the modern world unflinchingly; even its gaieties are gently mournful, echoing the disillusionment that swept across the country after the start of the Great Depression in 1929. Cape Cod Evening (1939; 77 x 102 cm (30 1/4 x 40 in)) should be idyllic, and in a way it is. The couple enjoy the evening sunshine outside their home, yet they are a couple only technically and the enjoyment is wholly passive as both are isolated and introspective in their reveries. Their house is closed to intimacy, the door firmly shut and the windows covered. The dog is the only alert creature, but even it turns away from the house. The thick, sinister trees tap on the window panes, but there will be no answer.