The Lighthouse at Two Lights is a perfect example of Hopper's intention to capture with clarity his exact impression as a realist painter without theatrics or emotion.
The coastal village of Cape Elizabeth, Maine had been Hoppers summer retreat from the hectic life of New York since 1914. While it represents his enjoyment and fond memories of his time at the summer escape, the lighthouse also symbolizes Hopper's recurring themes of solitude and struggle against inevitable change.
As the sole surviving light tower after the second was decommissioned in 1924, the local name of Lighthouse at Two Lights for The Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse became obviously inaccurate and outdated, and to Hopper, it was a sad reminder of the changes to the landmark he knew so well.
Thus, the title Lighthouse at Two Lights is made all the more poignant by highlighting the difficulty of moving on from change and, of course, the solitude of the remaining lighthouse.
From 1927, Hopper completed several studies of the lighthouse in oil and watercolor, perfecting his impression with the above painting in 1929.
Hopper skilfully emphasizes the lone predicament of the lighthouse with careful use of form and space, by viewing the lighthouse from below against the vast blue sky.
The dramatically cropped image allows the viewer to singularly focus on the isolation of the subject, rather than be distracted by the surrounding panorama. This allows Hopper to convey his message of isolation whilst accurately portraying his subject without distortion of colors and form.
The vision of sun-bleached walls etched with solid shadows of this solitary towering figure contrast with the wisps of white clouds gliding past, a steadfast rock compared to something temporary and insubstantial.
The surrounding landscape of barren, windswept scrub and grass emphasizes the constant movement of nature and the lighthouse’s defiant stance against time and change.