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Stairway at 48 Rue de Lille Paris is one of Edward Hopper's earliest paintings and was created in 1906. This as when he was experimenting with modern realism and using oils on canvas.
It was during this year that Hopper first visited Paris. The painting clearly shows a winding staircase that leads up the the now famous landing of 48 Rue de Lille. Hopper actually lived in the building for eight months.
At first glance the painting appears to be incredibly simplistic, in its use of oils on canvas, but the painting is far from simplistic. Hopper has cleverly used colour, tone, light and shading to create an incredibly realistic painting that at first glance resembles a photographic image.
On closer inspection we can see the light reflected on the steps which may be covered in raindrops.
The richly applied paint is a bold artistic statement on the canvas, and with each brush stroke clearly evident, the painting comes to life, which adds to the intensity of his paintings and makes them appear even more realistic.
Hopper used dark tonal colours for Stairway at 48 Rue de Lille Paris, and the art world has conflicting ideas as to why he chose such dark colouring. One theory is that the painting was created on a rainy day in Paris, therefore resulting in a darker image.
Another theory is that the dark tones of the painting were simply evoked by Hopper's feelings of arriving in a new country.
As an observer we see the stairwell from the vantage point of a bedroom door. We are allowed into the painting and see what Hopper would have seen wile painting.
The space in which the stairwell occupies is incredibly narrow and restrictive and Hopper has successfully captured this feeling of isolation and restrictiveness in his choice of colours and painting technique.