Watkins, Hopper & the melancholy nude

WR Watkins painted across a sixty-year span so it’s natural that his style would evolve over the decades. His brushwork was quite gestural in the 1920s and 30s, became more finished in the 1940s and 50s, and loosened up again in the 1960s. But one constant we’ve noticed is a psychological acuity — a sense of melancholy and discomfort that he consistently captured in his models.

It makes us think of the classic images of his contemporary, Edward Hopper, another painter whose sensibility developed out of the Great Depression.

Edward Hopper morning sunEdward Hopper standing nudeEdward Hopper woman sitting alone

Hopper used spatial isolation to make his point, while WR Watkins relied primarily on facial expression and posture.

WR Watkins woman with bottleWR Watkins nude in kitchenWR Watkins nude against wallWR Watkins woman turning away

Posted Saturday, May 16th, 2009 under WR Watkins, history, influences.


  1. It’s easy to see that the drab isolation of Harper’s works stemmed out of the Great Depression. Thanks for showing us these pics.

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