Isabel Bishop: Noon Hour, 1935
a sketch of two people looking at each other
Isabel Bishop
Noon Hour, 1935
Etching, 6 ⅞ x 4 ¾ inches


In Noon Hour, from 1935, Isabel Bishop depicts the casual lunchtime conversation between two young women who are liberated briefly from their secretarial or sales desks. While many twentieth-century artists captured distinctly “American” scenes, Bishop focused on the fleeting, private exchanges between female office workers.


After growing up in Detroit, Michigan, Isabel Bishop moved to New York City at age sixteen to study commercial art, attending the New York School of Design for Women in 1918. After shifting from commercial drawing to painting in 1920, she studied at the Art Students League with Cubist painter Max Weber and Kenneth Hayes Miller, a member of the urban-inspired Ashcan School. During this time, she developed a realist technique and interest in portraying urban scenes, such as the moving figures and crowds in Union Square, which she overlooked in her studio from 1934 to 1978. Best known for her paintings of working women, hobos, and students, her art illustrated the changing face of Union Square from the Depression landscape of the 1930s to the war protesters and students of the 1960s and 1970s.