CHARLES BURCHFIELD, American (1893-1967), "Lincoln Avenue at Main Street, Salem, Ohio," 1916, watercolor on paper, 20 1/2 x 25 inches (sight)
"Lincoln Avenue at Main Street, Salem, Ohio," 1916
watercolor on paper
stamped with C.E. Burchfield Foundation stamp and numbered "18" lower right, titled and dated on the reverse
20 1/2 x 25 inches (sight)
Provenance: Estate of the Artist; Frank K.M. Rehn Galleries, New York, New York; Mr. and Mrs. Richard M. Cohen; Kennedy Galleries, Inc., New York, New York, 1972; Private Collection, Connecticut.
Exhibited: New Britain, Connecticut, The New Britain Museum of American Art, "Sound and Silence: Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967) / Edward Hopper (1882-1967), November 15-December 30, 1973, cat. no. 2 (illustrated).
Literature: Joseph S. Trovato, "Charles Burchfield: Catalogue of Paintings in Public and Private Collections," (Utica, New York: Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, 1970), cat. no. 59, p. 39-40 (illustrated); Charles B. Ferguson, "Sound and Silence: Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967) / Edward Hopper (1882-1967)," exhibition catalog (New Britain, Connecticut: The New Britain Museum of American Art, 1973).
Charles Burchfield was born in Ashtabula Harbor, Ohio in 1893. When he was just five years old, his father died and Burchfield moved with his family to Salem, Ohio. In 1916 he was awarded a scholarship to the National Academy of Design in New York City but left after just one day in life-drawing class. The same year he graduated from the Cleveland School of Art and started working at the W. H. Mullins Company, a manufacturer of architectural metals, back in Salem.
Of his experience in New York, Burchfield historian Joseph Trovato writes, "Even when he went to study at the National Academy of Design, he was seemingly untouched by the contemporary New York art scene. Indeed, he was so homesick for the sights of Salem, Ohio, his childhood home, that he returned there after only two months in New York…It was during his Salem days that he was most productive. From 1915 to 1920 he did almost half of his total number of paintings – the best of which are among the most original achievements in American art."1
Trovato undoubtedly felt that "Lincoln Avenue at Main Street," was one of these achievements, prominently illustrating it in his catalog. The scene in the painting depicts an intersection just two blocks from Burchfield's Salem home.
His journal entry from the day the work was created, found by Burchfield scholar Nancy Weekly, states, "Yesterday – A warm thaw day – Morning a burst of windy white sunshine – glittering rivulets running everywhere – streets blinding – houses & trees black silhouettes – Poplars at Lincoln – horses standing in blinding spot –." (January 13, 1916) This written record of how Burchfield viewed his surroundings is confirmed in his painted depiction.
Burchfield was raised with his four siblings in a lower-middle-class neighborhood in Salem. He would walk home during his lunch breaks from the Mullins Company to work on his watercolors and paint in the evening and on the weekends. Burchfield was a very shy, introverted young man. He drew inspiration from his surroundings, the factories, houses, gardens, churches, and personalities in his community. He would roam the countryside and paint farmhouses in his idiosyncratic style with expressionistic light and bold colors giving the scenes a mythical appearance. He would find the expressive potential of factories and old houses possibly inspired by contemporary Midwestern novelist Sherwood Anderson.
In July of 1918 Burchfield was inducted into the Army where he painted camouflage. He was honorably discharged in January of 1919 and then returned to Salem. In November 1921 Burchfield was offered a position in Buffalo, New York. By 1929, Burchfield had established a new homestead and studio in Buffalo and with the help of dealer Frank Rehn became a full-time artist.
1 Joseph Trovato, "Charles Burchfield: Catalogue of Paintings in Public and Private Collections," (Utica, NY: Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, 1970), p. 8.
Tags: works on paper, modern / contemporary, Regionalist / Regionalism, Ohio, listed artist, 20th century
Notes: We are grateful to Nancy Weekly, Burchfield Scholar, and Scott Propeack, Interim Director, of the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, New York for their research. A research report compiled by Nancy Weekly accompanies this lot.
Framed dimensions: 34 x 39 x 2 inches
Condition: Not examined out of frame, overall very good to excellent condition. Please contact us for additional information.
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