Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), The Birches, 1921; wallpaper produced by M. H. Birge & Sons Company, pattern number 1186, 18 x 19 inches (Frame: 27 1/2 x 23 7/8 inches); Burchfield Penney Art Center, Gift of the Burchfield Foundation, 1975
In 1921, Burchfield relocated to Buffalo to take a position as assistant designer of wallpaper at the M. H. Birge and Sons Company. The first wallpaper he designed, The Birches, features young trees bearing spring catkin flowers, sturdy cottonwoods, and arching sumac branches—a scene excerpted from his 1917 painting Bluebird and Cottonwoods. His comments about the design are included with this sample: "The Birches" / 1921—The first design I made for / the Birge Co. (and just about my favorite) (Based on a 1917 watercolor)” For his designs, Burchfield often borrowed imagery directly from earlier work created around his home in Salem and in the countryside surrounding Cleveland, where he had studied art. He also employed similar strategies in his cretonne designs for coordinating drapery and upholstery. The Birge Company commended his talent by printing “Designed by Burchfield” in the selvage, beginning in 1927. During his eight-year tenure, Charles married Bertha Kenreich, moved to the nearby suburb of Gardenville, and they raised five children. He resigned as head of the design department to pursue his painting full-time on July 31, 1929, just months before the devastating stock market crash; yet he endured successfully.
--Content by Nancy Weekly for the exhbition "A Dream World of Imagination: Charles E. Burchfield's Golden Year"