Haskell’s House (1924)

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Haskell’s House (1924). Watercolor on paper. Private collection.

From Hopper’s Places (1998, Univ. of California Press), by Gail Levin: “When Hopper painted Gloucester Mansion, the side view of a large, ornate Second Empire house set on a hill overlooking Gloucester harbor, and a year later painted this same imposing house in a frontal view as Haskell’s House, he was working in a location not far from where he painted his 1912 oil Gloucester Harbor, but his interests had led him to something much more personal than the picturesque harbor captured by so many artists before him. He now focused on this ornate hybrid style of architecture which Jo called ‘the wedding cake house,’ a fitting subject for a work painted on their honeymoon.

Although painted in a completely different color scheme, the structure of the house today is just as Hopper depicted it. Yet the overall appearance is so changed that one does not initially recognize it. Unlike the house of The Mansard Roof, still set in a quiet corner of Rocky Neck, this once stately house is on one of busy Gloucester’s main thoroughfares, overlooking the now industrialized harbor. The short shrubs that once lined the long steps leading up the hill to the house have been replaced by tall fir trees which totally block the view that Hopper painted.”

There’s also some contemporary street-level housing that is totally unavoidable in framing Haskell’s House today — with orange doors. The Gloucester city official who approved such a godawful mistake should also be forced to live behind such an orange door… in Architecture Hell.

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