Edward Hopper (XV) – Changing moods from one restaurant to another (1922-30)

I consider these three oils, representing people in restaurants, as a group or series in Hopper’s work. While the moods of the protagonists are variable and quite contrasting, Hopper used a very similar palette, and also a quite similar compositional approach in all the paintings. Moreover, his wife –Josephine Nivison– modelled for six of the nine ladies depicted in them (surely two –and perhaps all three– in the first, all three in the second, and also possibly for the busy waitress in the foreground of the third).

The first oil, New York Restaurant (1922), is the most crowded, animated and “noisy” of them all; and the one I like best, even if the others are very good too. Being the treatment of light equally masterly, there is a movement in that scene that both the others (purposely) lack; most especially the second, to the point of making it a bit frightening – to my eyes at least.

Chop Suey (1929), much more relaxed, is also more intriguing, aside of technically very daring (notice the strange framing of the scene, which looks arbitrarily cropped, like some awkward photography). The title of the work alludes to the name of a Chinese chain of popular inexpensive eateries in New York; one of which the Hoppers frequented. Here, as I have begun to comment above, there is some odd stillness; the red pot and blue bowl on the table –each one with its shadows–, the hats of the girls, the coat hanging between the windows and the neon sign outside seem to have rather more “life” than the human subjects themselves.

The last of these oils, Tables for Ladies (1930), shows us another restaurant; and another clock among many in Hopper’s oils (this one seems to indicate some five to ten minutes to eight, most probably p.m.) Its curious title refers to a social innovation from the late 20s, when many working women wanted to feel at ease eating out alone; so, some restaurants advertised “tables for ladies” in order to welcome their female customers (who, until then, if seen dining alone, were assumed to be prostitutes).

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[Muskegon Museum of Art, Muskegon, MI, USA]

(I am sorry I cannot assure that the original size is the one I am giving in the caption, but the Muskegon Museum does not provide any reference on its website, and all my search online have proved quite vain with respect to reliable sources.)

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[Barney A. Ebsworth private collection]

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[The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, USA]


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21 thoughts on “Edward Hopper (XV) – Changing moods from one restaurant to another (1922-30)

    1. I thank you heartily ✨ I also feel honoured by your words, because I do admire ALL of your posts 🙂 You are indeed a most learned person; an erudite, and moreover you write so well ! My only frustation about your blog is its very extension (and depth); also you are so prolific I cannot keep pace reading everything you post. Anyway, I am enjoying a lot your series on Holmes’ adventures, and I’m sure I will read all of it, since I have been as well a Holmes fan most of my life, from my early teens on –and I still come back to these stories quite often.
      BTW, how do you manage to write so much, and so well!, when days just last 24 h. ? Sometimes, I wonder if you can really do anything else (including eating and sleeping) 🙃
      Anyway, many thanks again for stoping by and commenting. A Big Hug 💐

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re too sweet, Li, thank you. *hugs* I’m glad you’re enjoying the posts. Honestly… there’s no secret. I’m an insomniac. Sleeping is optional. So… printed books by night, audiobooks by day while I’m at work, blogging over coffee in the mornings… If I stopped to think about it, it might fall apart. It’s all just distraction from my internal craziness. 😛

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        1. Uf :/ Insomnia is a bad thing, as I’ve well known too. As for sweetness -like you say-, if is real, it would be not merit of mine but a side-effect of feminization, both of body and mind. I was not especially sweet when I was more boyish. As for craziness…, well, this is certainly another side effect of transition (at least to me 🙂 )

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          1. I can relate to that. Giving in to the woman inside has really helped me along those lines. I envy your physical transition. I really do. Too many barriers for me that I have no idea how to cross… yet. If this is any indication, you’re blossoming very well. So much love and respect for what you’re accomplishing.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Thank you so much, sis ! 🙂 Maybe you can relate as well to my appreciation of your words. But do not envy me, because I’m also walking through tough matters. The very best is I feel much better with myself; more adequate, even when others think just the other way round (but it was worse when I was, and tried to stay, in the middle of the way, mixing both genders. Androgynes are not socially accepted in our society.)

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              1. *nods* I understand. That’s why I’m still hiding in plain sight as a man. Intolerance as far as the eye can see here. But I femme up when and where I can behind closed doors, and my trusted friends accept me, so at least that’s something. I know your road is tough. But I do so admire your courage. Live the dream, sis. Live the dream and don’t look back. 🙂

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  1. I’m a fan of Hopper too. He lived on Cape Cod for parts of many years. I’ve seen a number of the real-life scenes on Cape Cod that he painted, though there have been changes in the streetscapes and landscapes since he put them on canvas.
    Take care —
    Neil S.

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    1. Oh! I’ve never been in New England (or elsewhere in the USA, btw 🙂 as I would really like. Precisely, the coasts of Massachusetts and Maine are very special and dear places in my imagination. Also I would love to go to Boston and stay a whole week, or more, in The Museum of Fine Arts !
      Many Thanks for stoping by and commenting on my posts. A Big Hug 💐 ✨ !

      Liked by 1 person

    1. He he 🙂 Yeah.
      When uploding the pic, I thought he was (aside of smoking) just enduring his wife’s or girlfriend’s scolding 🙂
      Hugs, Glen. And thanks for coming here 🙂 ✨

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  2. All three paintings are wonderful. My favorite is New York Restaurant. Looking at the painting you see the waitress and a number of people in the background giving the feeling of a bustling and busy place. Yet the couple seated at the table appear to be in a world all their own.

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  3. I really like his work, some of which I was unfamiliar with, so thank you for sharing.
    Also–this aspect of your blog demonstrates you are not just the one thing, the sexual person, but a whole, involved & interesting person of the world !

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    1. You are welcome 🙂
      (I do not know if I’m a whole person or not, but this blog has dealt basically with art from the beginning, with posts on sexuality and eroticism being quite marginal; just a very small percentage 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, it is true that my other blog may be rather randy and naughty… It was my purpose, since sex has been from old, and still is, an important part of my life, my thoughts and my concerns. I know it is not everybody’s cup of tea, the same way that religion or economics (to say something at random) are not mine. 🙂

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