It features a scene from rural America. The man and woman are presumably a couple but as ever, Hopper highlights the fact that they at not engaging with each other.
The woman appears lost in her own thoughts, her arms are crossed but the viewer is unsure whether she is cold or feeling defensive. The man sits on the porch trying to attract the dog's attention but the dog is looking elsewhere.
The dog is still, poised with its ears pricked, listening to something.
The scene is atmospheric for other reasons too. The house appears neat and tidy but the long prairie grass is blowing in the wind. The scene suggests Autumn but Hopper has deliberately used a dark blue/green colour and an evergreen tree.
The bright white of the house contrasts starkly against the dark tree, giving the viewer just a hint of discontent or even menace as evening approaches.
Hopper spent hours preparing for his paintings. Cape Cod Evening was no exception. He made numerous sketches in preparation around Truro, a fishing village in Cape Cod, Massachusetts and took "mental impressions of things in the vicinity".
Hopper's idea for the woman was a "Finnish" type with blonde hair and a strong jaw, like he had seen in the area. He chose to portray a "Yankee" for the man. The doorway of the house was pieced from one he had seen in Orleans.
The prairie grass, he saw from his studio window. He also described the evening sounds that he heard, and depicted this through the dog. Perhaps the dog was listening to the nocturnal Whip-poor-will bird. According to Hopper's wife, Whippoorwill was going to be the original title for this piece.
Cape Cod Evening is a wonderful representation of man and nature. A piece of American life as seen by Edward Hopper.