Lighthouse and Buildings, Portland Head, Cape Elizabeth, Maine (1927) by Edward Hopper

Lighthouse and Buildings, Portland Head, Cape Elizabeth, Maine - Edward Hopper - 1927

Artwork Information

TitleLighthouse and Buildings, Portland Head, Cape Elizabeth, Maine
ArtistEdward Hopper
Dimensions49.5 x 34.3 cm
Art MovementNew Realism
Current LocationMuseum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston, MA, US

About Lighthouse and Buildings, Portland Head, Cape Elizabeth, Maine

The artwork “Lighthouse and Buildings, Portland Head, Cape Elizabeth, Maine,” created in 1927 by Edward Hopper, embodies the essence of New Realism within the landscape genre. Measuring 49.5 by 34.3 cm, it presents a serene depiction of one of Maine’s most iconic seascapes. Currently, the artwork is part of the collection at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston, Massachusetts.

The artwork features a composition dominated by the towering presence of the lighthouse, set against the clear blue expanse of the sky and sea. It is placed slightly off-center, drawing the eye as the main focal point. The sea, painted in a deep shade of blue that mirrors the sky, suggests a tranquil day without the turmoil of a storm. A sandy foreground with sparse vegetation provides a natural leading line to the lighthouse, while rocks intermittently jut out from the ocean near the land, adding texture and a sense of rugged coastal geography.

Adjacent to the lighthouse is a cluster of modest buildings, rendered with Hopper’s characteristic clean and precise brushwork. The architecture of the buildings is very typical of the northeastern United States’s coastal regions, with pitched roofs and prominent gables that seem to echo the verticality of the lighthouse. The play of light and shadow across the lighthouse and buildings suggests the brightness of midday, with the sun casting strong but diffuse light, indicative of the clear skies above. Shadows are minimal, suggesting the sun is high and the light is harsh, typical of a coastal scene during summer. Hopper’s use of naturalistic colors and keen observation of the effects of light corresponds to the New Realism movement’s approach to depicting contemporary life and environments in a straightforward manner, without idealization or embellishment. Overall, the artwork captures a serene and timeless coastal scene that is characteristic of Edward Hopper’s iconic style.

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