Edward Hopper: Night Shadows, 1921
bird's eye view of person walking down street
Edward Hopper
Night Shadows, 1921
Etching on paper, 7 x 8 5/16 inches


In Night Shadows, Edward Hopper creates an atmosphere of suspense by placing the audience at a high vantage point, looking down on a lone figure at night. The print demonstrates the vigorous cross-hatching, deeply bitten lines, and heavy inking that are typical of Hopper’s etchings. The starkly white paper and shades of black ink represent an effect called chiaroscuro, which is Italian for “light–dark.” The subjects most identified with Hopper are empty scenes—an isolated house, a vacant room, an abandoned street. These eerie settings, amplified by manipulation of shadow, unusual vantage points, and simple composition, add to the mystery and psychological tension in his work. When Hopper does include figures in his art, they are often alone, weighted by solitude or dwarfed by their modern environment.


Edward Hopper was born in 1882 in Nyack, New York. After graduating high school he enrolled in a school for illustrators in New York City, and later transferred to the New York School of Art. There he studied with Robert Henri, leader of The Eight movement, who encouraged Hopper to paint realistic scenes of urban and rural America. Hopper’s depictions of cityscapes, landscapes, and room interiors are hallmarked by their solemn tone, careful composition, and frozen moments animated by natural and artificial light.