Edward Hopper was twenty-one when he sketched this quietly confident self-portrait. A student at the prestigious New York School of Art, Hopper earned awards for drawing and oil painting. One fellow student recalled that he produced “brilliant” drawings with impressive speed. This quick sketch reveals the influence of Hopper’s teacher, Robert Henri, in its informal pose and strong, loose strokes of charcoal.
Hopper is dressed in a jacket and roll-neck sweater. Such sweaters were popular for masculine outdoor athletics, especially football and cycling. In part through his choice of clothing, Hopper depicts himself as youthful, unpretentious, and modern. Although two decades would pass before he gained recognition for his oddly mysterious realist painting, this drawing demonstrates a modern sensitivity to medium and self-representation. In 1935, Hopper remarked, “In every artist’s development the germ of the later work is always found in the earlier. . . . What he was once, he always is, with slight modifications.”