ADAMWEINBERG: The Whitney Museum is the repository of Edward Hopper’s estate, which makes the museum an extraordinary resource for scholars of Hopper’s work. The collection includes a series of ledger books in which Hopper and his wife, Josephine Nivison Hopper, kept detailed records of his paintings. The ledger books include details about the setting of each painting, the materials the artist chose, the price for which the work was sold, and a description of each painting. Art historian Deborah Lyons talks about the ledger book entry for this painting, called Seven a.m..
LYONS: The ledger page for Seven a.m. notes the size of the canvas, that it was painted in the Truro studio in October 1948. That Hopper used Windsor and Newton colors. That’s often a comment that Hopper himself makes, here it’s recorded by his wife. The page for Seven a.m. reveals probably more about the painting than Hopper himself would have revealed. Hopper’s wife Jo tends to be very chatty and lively, very anecdotal. But interestingly she begins the page with the comment that the painting is the contrast between stark white and the dark green woods. Which is a comment that you expect more from Hopper, than from Jo. However, as the page goes on she reveals that the store which is a very mysterious store, it has an uncertain feeling of commerce, you’re not quite sure what’s sold there. She reveals that the store is a blind pig, at least in her eyes. A blind pig is a word for a speakeasy. And so the store, she imagines that the store has a very shady kind of character, that it’s a front for something. The other thing about the journals, and to me the most, the loveliest and most telling comment she has about the work, is that the painting has a radiance that is acquired not entirely through color which to me sums up the power of Hopper’s art.