Hopper started drawing at an early age. He became a student at the New York Institute of Art and Design and studied there for six years. William Merritt Chase was one of the esteemed teachers at the school who was very influential in Hopper’s style as a painter. Chase opened Hopper’s eyes to the beauty of impressionism.
The other teacher that had great impact on Hopper’s artistry was Robert Henri. Henri encouraged his students to paint with a modern sensibility. He wanted his students to paint what interested them. Hopper became part of a group of select students under Henri known as “The Fifteen.” This group which included Homer Boss, George Bellows, and Rockwell Kent exhibited together in rented lofts and galleries in New York. Their work was largely ignored by Art Reviewers.
To make ends meet, Hopper turned to illustration. For over fifteen years he came to detest illustration and became severely depressed. Finally at the famous Armory Show of 1913, he sold his first painting, Sailing. In 1924 he married his wife Josephine Nivison. She got his watercolors to be included in an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. By the time he was 41, he was financially secure and his House on the Railroad was one of the first paintings the Museum of Modern Art acquired.
Hopper sold over 30 paintings in 1931 at the height of the depression. He became a staple at the Whitney Museum, exhibiting there every year for the rest of his life. His paintings became part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s permanent collection.
In spite of his fame, Hopper and his wife Jo continued to live in his spare walk up apartment and summer house in Truro for the rest of their lives.
Edward Hopper is considered by art critics to be one of America’s greatest artists. His work is highly desirable and is represented in every major institution in the United States.