Edward Hopper is widely regarded as the quintessential American artist of the Twentieth Century. The artist’s most instantly recognizable painting, Nighthawks from 1942, is an oil painting that exemplifies his distinctive style of realism. His first artistic success, however, was in the medium of watercolor. Hopper’s first solo exhibition – at the Frank K. M. Rehn Gallery in New York – consisted solely of watercolor paintings.
While his process for oils was meticulous, involving extensive preparatory drawings to study the subject of a single painting, his watercolors were quick and spontaneous. Edward Hopper’s Rain on River captures an instant impression of nature. The horizontality, combined with the slant of the landscape, draws the eye across the canvas. The artist’s impulsive application of pigment captures the delicate and fleeting light of a summer shower.
This 1938 painting is related to a series of works produced along the White River in South Royalton, Vermont during the summers of 1937 and 1938. First Branch of the White River, another work from the “White River” series is at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and it depicts the river from a slightly elevated angle. It was acquired by the museum in 1939, just one year after the work was created.
Countless museum exhibitions and collections have been dedicated to the artist’s work. Tying them together is a sense of familiar melancholy that resonates as much with the individual as with the collective American experience.