Pen and ink and wash on cream wove paper, 1897. 250x180 mm; 10x7 1/4 inches. Titled in ink, upper right recto, and dated "5/12/97" in ink, lower left recto.
Provenance: Estate of the artist, New York; Josephine N. Hopper, the artist's widow, New York; Reverend and Mrs. Arthayer R. Sanborn, Nyack; private collection, New York; private collection, Pennsylvania.
Exhibited: "Edward Hopper: The Early Years," September 6, 1982-August 31, 1983, various institutions, organized by the Brevard Art Center and Museum for the Southern Arts Federation Visual Arts Touring Program; "Edward Hopper (1882-1967): Early Impressions," Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Provincetown, Massachusetts, May 21-July 4, 2010, and Berta Walker Gallery, Provincetown, Massachusetts, July 30-September 5, 2010; "A Window into Edward Hopper," Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, May 28-September 11, 2011.
Published: Edward Hopper: The Early Years, Melbourne, Florida, 1982, catalogue number 9a; Edward Hopper (1882-1967): Early Impressions, Provincetown, 2010, catalogue number 34 (illustrated); Troyen, A Window into Edward Hopper, Cooperstown, 2011, page 20, figure 8 (illustrated).
In this early, finished ink drawing, 15-year old Hopper (1882-1967) positioned the isolated figure, an ivory soap saleswoman, in a theatrical setting resembling a marionette booth. There are no patrons or other figures present in the composition; stillness and eeriness dominate the scene, emphasized by the darkly-shaded background. The subject appears to be commonplace, but also invites the viewer to interpret the narrative, like many of Hopper's iconic works. Decades later, the figure of the usherette in Hopper's oil painting New York Movie, 1938-39, lost in her thoughts against a dark backdrop, would echo the contemplative mood evoked by the current drawing.