by David Finkle
[ fiction - september 04 ]
RETROSPECTIVE: WILLIAM FORSTER (b. April 16, 1896, d. December 22, 1939)
"Room in Brooklyn 29 X 34, Feb. 2, 1932 Painted in NY Studio Green carpet with bright yellow patch of sunlight from right window. Red brick houses opposite. White vase blue green cloth under it. Pinky flowers lots of leaves. Green window shade. Dark red table closer to L. Woman red hair blue grey dress. Raw sienna woodwork & rocking chair. Sky, blue. (Window curtains down to be washed) Boston Museum of Fine Arts 1500 - $ = 1200. May 14.1935"
excerpt from Edward Hopper's Journals
1. "The Parting". 54 x 36 Painted Truro. Linen canvas. Bedroom overlooking body of water below in distance, suggestion of waves. Blonde woman, right, seated on wooden chair, looking through closed window w/raised window shade (mushroom, frayed edges). Woman adjusting brown fedora w/feather, wearing matching brown traveling suit. Man on bed, left, in forest green shirt and mud brown trousers. Lying on side, looking towards viewer. Eyes averted, expressionless. Sun falls through window, forms patches on floor, does not reach bed. Blue light, a color approximating water outside, prevails. Table behind bed w/open book (spine up), whiskey bottle, two plain glasses (one empty, one half full), round clock w/bell on top. Time can be read: 3:37. At door, extreme l., two valises, shut, forming loose V. Finished October 3, 1938, sold to Mr Henry Brandt (Cleveland), $1375.
2. "Train Station at Night" 54 x 36 Painted Truro. Linen canvas. Train station bar, night. Woman at wooden table, r., peers through window at platform. Writing on window, seen in reverse (almost legible). Heavy shadows outside broken by dashes of yellow, hint of steam rising from (unseen) incoming train. Woman in brown traveling suit, hand to wavy sienna hair. On table, brown hat w/feather; glass with brown liquid same color as suit, ashtray with cigarette, smoke rising faintly. Behind woman, section of bar. Bartender (woman, blonde, ochre dress), leaning, addressing male patron seen from back in grey suit, grey fedora pushed back on head, one foot on railing, one foot on floor, brown brogans. Between woman and table, door (also with nearly legible reverse writing, jukebox with curved top, rounded glass front lighted yellow-brown, suggestion of 78 rpm records. Above jukebox, large clock: 8:52. Finished October 21, 1938, sold to Mrs George P Miller (Detroit), $1450.
3. "The Letter" 54 x 36 Painting begun in Truro, completed in NY studio. Linen canvas. Hotel room, night. Man in forest green trousers and sleeveless white undershirt at table. Viewed from side, right arm down at side, left arm resting on wooden table. Also on table: nearly empty whiskey bottle, glass (almost empty), letter lying open showing fold marks, pen (mottled, Waterman), ink bottle containing black ink, black cap on table. Man looks through window, right. In front of him, obscure facades w/dark windows across narrow street. One window lighted, tan window-shade partially lowered. View of woman's torso in pale pink slip. Behind man, floor lamp beaming yellow-brown light upward. Only other illumination shadows thrown by weak outside streetlight. Also, unmade bed, chenille bedspread (key lime yellow). Mirror over bed reflecting blank wall and sliver of yellow- brown light thrown by lamp. End table with square clock. Time is 4:06. Finished November 1, 1938, sold to Mr and Mrs Abraham Levin (New York City). $1550.
4. "Open Window, Early Morning" 54 x 36 Painted in NY studio. Linen canvas. Seaside hotel room, body of water in distance. Early morning light (pale white, pale blue) falls through open double-hung window, r., with wide grey ledge seen. Pale yellow curtains billow, indicating mild breeze. Light wood wardrobe center with partially open door, part of brown suit on hanger. In front of wardrobe wooden table, single wooden chair left of it. On back of chair, blue shirt, red tie draped over it. On table whiskey bottle, glass, pen, black ink bottle with black cap on it, framed picture of woman w/sienna hair. Bed off-center left, pale rose bed covers (chenille) pulled up. Door at right, ajar. On inside of door hangs brown overcoat, fedora, (darker brown shade) hangs. Gives impression of limp male body. Outside door, a man, partially seen, in white shirt, orange bow tie peers in. Behind him man in uniform (police blue) stands, also only partially seen. Finished December 1, 1938, unsold (as yet), ask $2500.
5. "Woman with Letter" 54 x 36 linen canvas. Woman in dress (red with white flowers) looking through window, r., at street. Seated at table, holds unfolded letter. Light throughout room is monochromatic, no warm tones. On table, envelope, vase with flowers. Stem of one is broken. Outside window (off-white casement) weather is overcast. On street two figures one man, one woman pass one another holding umbrellas (black). At center before striped wall paper (spring green, cerise, beige), a sofa, straight-edged arms, flat cushions (all maroon). At left, archway through which are seen shadows suggestions of shapes. Face of a second woman with hair in bun (grey-white) looks around arch. Finished December 21, 1938, unsold (as yet), ask $2500.