Early Sunday Morning, 1930 by Edward Hopper
Although Hopper later stated that Early Sunday Morning " was almost a literal translation of Seventh Avenue", his painting appears less a specific picture of New York and more an image of America. Both the barber pole on the
sidewalk and the white curtains in the second-floor apartment connote the life-styles of small-time business people throughout the United States. Originally Hoper had painted a person in the second floor window, but he later decided that
the architecture conveyed his feelings and consequently painted out this individual. Although one cannot tell from the signs on the storefronts what kinds of business are represented except for the barber shop, the sizes of the buildings
suggest that they provided inexpensive goods and services.
During the Depression basic industries such as steel suffered, but small, service-oriented businesses selling shoes, clothes, food, drugs, and gas stayed in business, and some
even prospered: gas stations, laundries, beauty parlors, and barber shops served a growing clientele. The shops in Early Sunday Morning, which extend in a continuous line beyond the confines of the picture and reinforce the
horizontal format of the canvas, emphasize the ubiquity of small-time businesses in the United States. On the upper-right corner of the picture, the dark brown passage of paint suggests the side of a large building and indicates the
possible encroachment of the corporate world on this sunny block. Other shadows that are also cast from the right subtly imply that the small-time shopkeeper, the Progressives' symbol of the individual and the early nineteenth-century
American ideal, is in conflict with larger, less clearly defined forces. In this manner the painting continues the Progressive ideal and obliquely refers to the shadowy realm of larger structures on the right.
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