Morning Coffee

“Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.

— T.S. Eliot

It’s not necessarily Sunday in Hopper’s Early Sunday Morning, as the distinction was made by someone else after the painting was made. There is no lonely worker to identify with and no specific skyline to recognize, so where is that most obvious association that we can take with us to recall later? Perhaps the painting’s most compelling quality is that our own desperate search for a metaphor or acknowledged thing of beauty yields no results, and yet we still think of that one street in our neighborhood that makes our morning route ordinary.

Sunrise (Marine) was one of Monet’s first experiments with loose brushstrokes and fleeting reflections of light. He grew up in the industrial port of Le Havre, and returned there at the start of his career when plein air and dabs of color were still considered “insane” by most critics.

On the other hand, Cézanne’s Woman with a Coffee Pot exemplifies his efforts to move away from Impressionism and develop a geometric way of treating his subjects. The plain cup, wall pattern, and rigid dress of the sitter all seem to be made from the same detached quality that separates them from their physical associations.