35

CHARLES BURCHFIELD

American, 1893-1967

"Fires of Spring in Big Woods", February, 1951

watercolor on joined paper
stamped with C.E. Burchfield Foundation stamp and numbered "59" lower right
39 1/8 x 29 1/4 inches (sight)

  • Provenance: Frank K.M. Rehn, Inc., New York, New York; Andrew Crispo Gallery, New York, New York; Kennedy Galleries, Inc., New York, New York; A Connecticut estate.
  • Exhibited: New York, New York, Frank K.M. Rehn Galleries, Inc., "Charles Burchfield: Watercolors, Our Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition", October 1 - 20, 1973, checklist no. 23; New York, New York, Andrew Crispo Gallery, New York, New York, "Ten Americans", May 16 - June 30, 1974, cat. no. 29 (illus.); New York, New York, Kennedy Galleries, Inc., "Charles E. Burchfield Watercolors: Visual Music", October 13 - November 13, 1976, cat. no. 41 (illus.); New York, New York, Kennedy Galleries, Inc., "Burchfield's Seasons", April 28 - May 29, 1982 (cat. no. 1).

    Other notes: A copy of the purchase receipt from Kennedy Galleries accompanies this lot.

    We are grateful to Nancy Weekly, Burchfield Scholar, at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, New York for her assistance cataloging this lot. A research report compiled by Nancy Weekly accompanies this lot.

    Framed dimensions: 52 3/4 x 42 3/4 x 2 inches

    "The fires of spring have been kindled on the southern horizon, —and will later be whipped by the late winter winds, into vast white flames that will reach to the zenith. The brilliant day star swings in its blinding cause thru the remote blue sky, while to the north, great cold blue gray masses of snow clouds, with vivid white tops, accent the sunlit fields. The wind is from the north, bitterly cold, with a fine cutting edge. At times light flurries of snow fill the air & lit up by the filtered sunlight turn to a myriad of dazzling sparks." -Charles Burchfield (January 26, 1946)

    By 1951, when Fires of Spring in Big Woods was painted, Charles Burchfield had achieved remarkable success as an artist. Frank K.M. Rehn Galleries in New York had become his dealer in 1929 allowing Burchfield to work as an artist full-time. In 1926 he built a studio at his home in Gardenville, New York in the suburbs of Buffalo.

    His career highlights up to this point included a 1930 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, "Charles Burchfield: Early Watercolors, 1916-1918"; inclusion in an exhibition of American art at the Jeu de Pomme in Paris; commissions to paint the railroad yards in Pennsylvania and the mines in Texas and West Virginia; and inclusion in MoMA's 1939 exhibition "Art in Our Time". He had sold his first painting in a public collection to the Brooklyn Museum in 1921 and in 1952 sold Sun and Rocks to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

    Burchfield was an artist unlike any other. He had intentionally distanced himself from city life and felt out of place in the established art scene from his first art class in New York. His preference for suburban subjects has aligned him with the works of Regionalist artists led by Thomas Hart Benton, John Steuart Curry and Grant Wood although the association was firmly rejected by Burchfield.

    In the early 1940s, Burchfield began revisiting fantastical ideas and often created transcendental landscapes from them. He sought to probe the mysteries of nature to reveal his inner emotions. As quoted above, the "fires of spring" fascinated Burchfield. As the early spring sun hinted of warmer days ahead, the woods seemed on fire— this feeling is what Burchfield was so uniquely able to capture with his brush.



    Tags: works on paper, modern / contemporary, Regionalist / Regionalism, Buffalo, listed artist, 20th century
  • Condition: overall excellent to very good condition; a few scattered tiny surface accretions; slight toning to lower edge of paper; not examined out of the frame; additional photos available upon request

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