The House by the Railroad (1925)

House by the Railroad (1925) - Edward Hopper

I’ve always found this painting by Edward Hopper strange and disturbing. The house seems not so much built, as extruding itself from the landscape, extending bizarre architectural pseudopods. It has a plastic life of its own.

Not surprisingly, it was the inspiration for the house in Psycho, where creepy Norman Bates took such good care of his dear old mum. The question is what came first – the film or the painting? For me it was probably the film, colouring my impression of the painting, but what if you saw the painting first or perhaps never saw the film? You might see it differently. Here’s the Psycho house.

Psycho House

I think Hopper’s house is more disturbing. It has a greater sense of verticality, and those misshapen, oversized dormer windows and red chimneys push it right over the edge into overbearing and threatening. He’s imbued it with a sense of haunting loneliness, as he does to the figures in his paintings. What the film achieved by subject, lighting, music, and camera angles, Hopper achieves with paint.

But I would like to read an impression of the house from before the film.

6 thoughts on “The House by the Railroad (1925)

  1. If the painting was done in 1925 then how could it have come after the movie, which was made in 1960? I love Edward Hoppers work, some of it is very strange, but then again, I believe he was quite a strange man as well. His life also was quite strange. He did leave behind a lovely legacy though.

    • I mean the impression we have of Hopper’s painting before and after Psycho. Knowing the painting inspired the movie influences my perception of the painting. I’m curious to know what Hopper’s first reviewers thought of it.

  2. Pingback: True Adventures Vol. I, No. 5 May, 1925 | The Great Pulp Magazine Index

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