Mansard Roof, 1923 by Edward Hopper
She convinced him to go to Gloucester, famous place for people looking for objects, scenes to paint. She also convinced him to try watercolors. But he didn't paint pictures of the coast but Victorian Mansions.
He was really into depicting reality, of the architecture of the house. She took photographs of Hopper's scenes. He was accurate concerning the details of the house, the effect of light is essential here. The building has no symmetry but
Hopper chose to depict it from an angle that would give it balance, not in a frontal way. Geometric composition which contrasts with the use of a brushstroke.
At the time, mansions like this were seen as ugly, out of fashion, hideous and people didn't like it. They thought it was a vulgar style. Hopper was one of the first painter at this time to do paintings out of fashion as a symbol of the past. By choosing this subject, he force people to consider the changes and indeed, in 1920's there was a lot of changes: immigration, race, alcohol, gender.... A decade of profound social changes, rise of consumerism and mass entertainment: a revolution in morals. Hopper chose to side with the old america, the refusal of modern art, what reminded him of the past, the Golden Age. With this painting, Hopper was very successful, it won a prize and was purchased by the Brooklyn Museum.
Critics liked it, because they thought it was a symbol of America's past, nationalistic pride. The problem is that, that kind of architecture is not typically American, it is typically French (Second Empire, time when Napoleon wanted to rebuild Paris). Mansard Roof became very popular in Paris and spread in America, especially in New England.
They had mansard roofs, the american quality of mansard roof is questionable. After this painting, his reputation was established and moved to Greenwich Village in NY and stayed there for the rest of his life, got married with Jo and painted one of his most famous painting: House by the Railroad
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