The Prints of Charles Burchfield
Charles E. Burchfield (1893 - 1967) is primarily known for his
paintings, mostly in watercolor.
He did, however, do a few prints:
(at least) eleven etchings, eleven wood engravings, and three lithographs.
His etchings, aside from "The Beech Tree", only exist as proofs pulled in
The numbers of the proof impressions were small but
uncertain. "The Beech Tree" and nine other titles were
listed in the catalogue
by Leona Prasse (see reference below), but another we may call "Cloud over Tree"
exists in the Burchfield Penny Art Center collection.
Here is one of the 1919 proofs showing a quarry near Lisbon, Ohio
It is without doubt the Logtown Quarry,
which is now a popular rock-climbing site. (This the likely site
in Burchfield's 1919 painting "Trilliums and Rock Ledge".)
Here are nine of the wood engravings. They were done in collaboration
with Julius J. Lankes (1884 - 1960).
Burchfield did the drawings directly on the wood blocks and Lankes
then cut the blocks.
The first of these, "Uprooted Tree", is typical of Burchfield's approach
to nature. It is a perfectly
realistic image of at tree torn from the earth
by a storm, but from a point of view that suggests a
creature crying out in pain.
The following images illustrate small-town America. Burchfield grew up in Salem, Ohio.
There was also a plan with Lankes' brother Frank to publish an
illustrated edition of the Biblical book "Ecclesiastes".
While this project was never carried out,
Burchfield and J.J. Lankes completed four of the wood engravings.
The Whirling Wind
The Deserted City
This one is atypical for Burchfield, who avoided figure drawing!:
Cain and Abel
Sometime around 1940, Burchfield authorized a serigraph (i.e., silkscreen)
based on a 1916 watercolor. Burchfield's correspondence mentions
undertaking this project with the publisher Charles Boni. It is titled
Sunflowers and Red Barn
Burchfield himself didn't know how many were printed or how they were
distributed. Some auction listings say it was published in 1942 by
"American Living Art, Inc." (The edition size may have been 50, based
on another silkscreen they published.)
Burchfield wrote that it shows "sunflowers in our back alley, hot Aug.
sunlight, McCarty's red barn"
in Salem, Ohio. While
this print looks rather abstract, it is based on close observation of the scene.
(The black horizontal stripe in the upper right, for example, is the
shadow of the eave of the house behind the barn.)
Czestochowski (below) doesn't list this work.
If anyone knows more about this print (date, edition, printer, etc.), I'd
like to hear from you.
The last prints Burchfield made were three lithographs. They are
very much in the style of his later paintings.
Here are scans of
Crows in March
Czestochowski, Joseph S., The Published Prints of Charles E. Burchfield,
American Art Journal, Vol. 8, No. 2. (Nov., 1976), pp. 99-110.
Prasse, Leona E. The Drawings of Charles E. Burchfield, Catalogue of an Exhibition
Cleveland Museum of Art, 1953. See pp 30-31, The Prints of Charles E. Burchfield