American Paintings and Sculpture
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Artist: Edward Hopper, American, 1882–1967

Sunlight in a Cafeteria


Oil on canvas

40 3/16 × 60 1/8 in. (102.1 × 152.7 cm)
Bequest of Stephen Carlton Clark, B.A. 1903

From the time he was a young man, Edward Hopper was intrigued by people in urban restaurants, where strangers had little interaction. Sunlight in a Cafeteria captures an unsettling tension between the man and woman who are clearly aware of, but do not acknowledge, each other’s presence. This edgy stillness suggests the closed lines of communication in much of modern urban life. As in so many of Hopper’s paintings, the ambiguity in the scene opens up multiple narrative possibilities.

Made in United States
Not on view
20th century

Stephen Carlton Clark, b.a. 1903, about 1958 to 1961; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.


Michael Conforti et al., The Clark Brothers Collect: Impressionist and Early Modern Paintings, exh. cat. (Williamstown, Mass.: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2006), 186, 282, 287–88, 316, 332, ill. p. 282, fig. 211.

Nicholas Fox Weber, The Clarks of Cooperstown: Their Singer Sewing Machine Fortune, Their Great and Influential Art Collections, Their Forty-Year Feud (New York: Aldred A. Knopf, 2007), ill.

Patricia Junker, Edward Hopper Women, exh. cat. (Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 2008), 30-31, fig. 6.

Artists on Art: Observations by Yale Faculty on Selections from the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1999), 34–37, 48, ill.

Lisa R. Brody et al., “To Varnish or Not to Varnish?,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2010): 124–25, fig. 3–5.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.