Nighthawks is a 1942 oil on canvas painting by Edward Hopper that portrays people in a downtown diner late at night.
It is widely considered Hopper’s most famous work, and one of the most recognizable paintings in American art. Within months of its completion, it was sold to the Art Institute of Chicago on May 13, 1942 for $3,000.
Josephine Hopper’s notes on the painting
Night + brilliant interior of cheap restaurant. Bright items: cherry wood counter + tops of surrounding stools; light on metal tanks at rear right; brilliant streak of jade green tiles 3/4 across canvas–at base of glass of window curving at corner. Light walls, dull yellow ocre [sic] door into kitchen right.
Very good looking blond boy in white (coat, cap) inside counter. Girl in red blouse, brown hair eating sandwich. Man night hawk (beak) in dark suit, steel grey hat, black band, blue shirt (clean) holding cigarette. Other figure dark sinister back–at left. Light side walk outside pale greenish. Darkish red brick houses opposite. Sign across top of restaurant, dark–Phillies 5c cigar. Picture of cigar. Outside of shop dark, green. Note: bit of bright ceiling inside shop against dark of outside street–at edge of stretch of top of window.