Tables for Ladies, 1930. Edward Hopper. Oil on canvas. George A. Hearn Fund, 1931.
In Hopper’s Tables for Ladies, a waitress leans forward to adjust the vividly painted foods at the window as a couple sits quietly in the richly paneled and well-lit interior. A cashier attentively tends to business at her register. Though they appear weary and detached, these two women hold posts newly available to female city dwellers outside the home. The painting’s title alludes to a recent social innovation in which establishments advertised "tables for ladies" in order to welcome their newly mobile female customers, who, if seen dining alone in public previously, were assumed to be prostitutes.