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Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Memory of a Dream, March 15, 1919; watercolor and pencil on paper, 14 x 20 inches, Burchfield Penney Art Center, Purchased by Friends of the Center, 1975

Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Memory of a Dream, March 15, 1919; watercolor and pencil on paper, 14 x 20 inches, Burchfield Penney Art Center, Purchased by Friends of the Center, 1975

Following his honorable discharge from the U. S. Army at the end of World War I, Burchfield sought unusual subjects in caves and abandoned mines. Memory of a Dream may represent a dreamlike, nocturnal image of a swamp at the mouth of a cave, but the painting’s extraordinary, gloomy abstraction calls to mind the work of a modernist contemporary, Arthur Dove. Burchfield’s description of wandering through woods on the day after he painted Memory of a Dream gives perspective on the mood he wanted to convey: “The Pinehollow had a sad grandeur about its solitude; the stream roaring in the misty depths of its hollow was felt; a peter-bird sang after dusk, the fearful gloom of woods grabbed at the road; a bird call came from the … hill, like the rapid tapping on a hollow skull —” -- Nancy Weekly, 2007