Nighthawks is a 1942 American realism oil on canvas painting by Edward Hopper that portrays four people in a downtown diner late at night as viewed through the diner’s large glass window. The light coming from the restaurant illuminates a darkened and deserted urban streetscape.
It has been described as Hopper’s best-known work and is one of the most recognizable paintings in American art. It is suggested that Hopper was inspired by a short story of Ernest Hemingway’s, either “The Killers” (1927), which Hopper greatly admired, or the more philosophical “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” (1933).
The scene was supposedly inspired by a diner (since demolished) in Greenwich Village, Hopper’s neighborhood in Manhattan. Hopper said the painting “was suggested by a restaurant on Greenwich Avenue where two streets meet”. Additionally, he noted that “I simplified the scene a great deal and made the restaurant bigger”.