Hopper, at the time a struggling young artist, was attempting to shift his focus from illustration to the fine arts. He had studied with both the impressionist William Merritt Chase and with Rober Henri, who wanted his students to paint everyday things in a realistic way. With him in Henri’s class at the New York School of Art were fellow artists George Bellows, Rockwell Kent, and Arthur Cederquist.
Apparently it was as a favor to Cederquist that Hopper created the illustrations for the 1912 Melange, as he was not paid for the work. Cederquist’s younger brother, Milton Oliver Cederquist ’12, was the supervising art editor of the yearbook, and was happy to use anything provided by Hopper, including the “Atheletics” sketch with its misspelling intact. The “Greetings” and “Society” drawings both include Hopper’s initials “E.H.”
Hopper considered himself “a rotten illustrator—or mediocre, anyway,” explaining that he was not interested in drawing people “grimacing and posturing. Maybe I am not very human. What I wanted to do was to paint sunlight on the side of a house.” This quote and the illustrations are included in Edward Hopper as Illustrator (1979) by Gail Levin. Hopper, of course, successfully negotiated the transition from illustration to painting, becoming one of the country’s most renowned realist painters of the 20th century.
—Diane Shaw, College Archivist