House by the railroad

Edward Hopper • Painting, 1925, 61×73.7 cm
About the artwork
This artwork was added since it is referred to in the materials below
Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Landscape, Architecture
Style of art: Realism
Technique: Oil
Materials: Canvas
Date of creation: 1925
Size: 61×73.7 cm
Artwork in selections: 44 selections

Description of the artwork «House by the railroad»

House by the Railroad is a painting of a fairly early period in the Edward Hopper’s work. In 1910, the artist returned from France to America and never left it again. But for a long time, the influence of the French impressionists remained in his works.
Admiring the works by Cezanne and Monet, Hopper began to modify the colour palette of his paintings, making it brighter and lighter. The house in this picture is brightly lit by the sun, which, apparently, is already falling to sunset. But in the deep shadows and lifeless windows of the building, one can see a kind of dreary anxiety and abandonment. At the same time, when looking at the canvas, there is an unaccountable feeling that someone is closely watching you behind these windows, from the depths of dark rooms.

Hopper often used a strict and clear horizontal element in his paintings, as if forcibly separating the real world of the viewer from the space of the painting. Here, the railroad is such an element, which draws away some of the attention and does not allow you to see the whole house. And the more the viewer tries to see, the more impenetrable the image becomes.

The House by the Railroad is best known for being the first painting acquired by the New York Museum of Modern Art, founded in 1928. Moreover, it is very noteworthy that the house from the Hopper’s painting was taken as the basis for the construction of the mansion, which became the famous "Bates Motel" from the Psycho movie by Alfred Hitchcock. This mansion became the most expensive set in the film and cost $ 15,000 for the studio. Thanks to Hitchcock’s masterpiece film, as well as numerous sequels (for example, the successful Bates Motel series has been released in the United States since 2013), Hopper’s painting periodically experiences new waves of popularity, gaining a reputation for being dark and sinister. Although here, it is difficult to say what was originally the cause and what was the effect.

Author: Yevheniia Sidelnikova