Sun on Prospect Street (Gloucester, Massachusetts)

Edward Hopper1934

Cincinnati Art Museum

Cincinnati Art Museum
Cincinnati, United States

Edward Hopper believed that the key to a national art was the artist’s engagement with American experience, a philosophy instilled by his teacher, Robert Henri. Hopper, however, rejected the Henri's brash, spontaneous technique as the means of capturing the modern spirit. Breaking with Henri’s optimism, Hopper expressed the twentieth century’s profound loss of communication, particularly during the Great Depression.

Hopper painted this 1934 oil from a watercolor he made in 1928 in Gloucester, Massachusetts, a fishing port that had attracted artists since the mid-nineteenth century. Here, Hopper replaced the airy freshness of the watercolor with the sharp, unforgiving light that pervades his canvases and heightens their enveloping emptiness. He eliminated such humanizing details as the window grilles and curtains recorded in the watercolor, thus amplifying the image's felling of emptiness and strengthening the composition’s abstract geometry.

Hopper was sensitive to old American architecture and recorded the houses on Prospect Street quite accurately. Yet he did not romanticize Gloucester as a quaint New England village. He oriented this work from a motorist’s perspective and admired the modern design of automobiles; one in the foreground is described in his record book as a “touring car with canvas top.” He also noted the “expanse of pavement, oil stains down the center,” an astute and unglamorous observation of the modern world.


  • Title: Sun on Prospect Street (Gloucester, Massachusetts)
  • Creator: Edward Hopper (American, b.1882, d.1967)
  • Creator Lifespan: 1882/1967
  • Creator Nationality: American
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: New York City, New York, United States
  • Creator Birth Place: Nyack, New York, United States
  • Date Created: 1934
  • Location Created: Gloucester, Massachusetts, United States
  • Physical Dimensions: 28 x 36 1/4 in. (71.1 x 92.1 cm)
  • Credit Line: The Edwin and Virginia Irwin Memorial
  • Alternate Title: Sun on Prospect Street, Street Scene, Gloucester
  • Accession Number: 1959.49
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: oil on canvas

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