As a mature artist, Edward Hopper spent most of his summers on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. There, he designed and built a sunny, secluded studio at Truro, on a bluff overlooking the water. The view in Rooms by the Sea resembles what Hopper would have seen out the back door of his studio. But the description that he gave this painting in his notebook—“The Jumping Off Place”—suggests that the image is more a metaphor of solitude and introspection than a depiction of the actual place. Like Hopper’s most arresting images, this scene seems to be realistic, abstract, and surrealistic all at once.