Edward Hopper's etching Night Shadows

Night Shadows, an Edward Hopper etching that sold for $16,000 (£12,600) to an online buyer at Bonhams Los Angeles.

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When it comes to his equally atmospheric and skillfully produced prints, however, this was an area on which he focused only during a specific period of his career.

In 1915 with the help of fellow artist Martin Lewis (1881-1962), he began to concentrate on this medium, producing around 70 etchings and drypoints before then deciding to focus solely on painting from 1928 onwards.

Among the trademark examples is Night Shadows, an image from 1921 showing a solitary figure from a high vantage point by a street corner (the same location as his 1913 painting Corner Saloon, now in The Museum of Modern Art, New York).

Copies appear relatively often at auction but sell for a range of prices depending on whether they are early impressions, how richly-inked they are (ie. how strong the contrasts of light and shadow appear on the paper) and, of course, their condition.

The highest price at auction for Night Shadows came at Swann Galleries in New York in May last year when an artist’s proof copy fetched $75,000 (£59,950). That copy, an etching on white wove paper, was early impression that would have been printed by the artist himself on chosen paper with his own inking.

The etching was later published in an edition of approximately 500 as part of a limited edition portfolio titled Six American Etchings printed for The New Republic, New York. These copies were made on a different, less absorbent and white tone paper than the artist used for his own personal editions. Today at auction, prices for the 1924 edition are markedly lower than the rarer earlier prints.

Demonstrating this, a copy that emerged at the latest prints sale at Bonhams Los Angeles (28% buyer’s premium) made under a quarter of the price of the Swann example.

Measuring 7 x 8.25in (17.5 x 21cm) and with trimmed margins to the paper, it was estimated at $8000-10,000 at the online sale that ran from January 9-19. Drawing interest from a number of parties, it sold above predictions at $16,000 (£12,600) and, despite looking good value compared to the Swann example, it duly led the Bonhams sale by the time the auction closed for bidding.

£1 = $1.27