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Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Deserted Barn, 1921; conté crayon, graphite and black ink on paper mounted on board, 19 x 21 3/8 inches; Gift of Richard and Genevieve Brown, 2007

Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Deserted Barn, 1921; conté crayon, graphite and black ink on paper mounted on board, 19 x 21 3/8 inches; Gift of Richard and Genevieve Brown, 2007

This drawing was likely created near Salem, Ohio before November 1921, when Burchfield moved to Buffalo, New York to be an assistant designer at the M. H. Birge & Sons Company, a quality wallpaper manufacturer at 390 Niagara Street. (Birge also had branches in New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, and London, England.)

Dilapidated country buildings were among his frequent subjects that, in retrospect, document post-World War I life in rural America. Stylistically, Burchfield’s distorted, expressive elements convey a sense of personal melancholy that resonated universally, his intent being empathy for the American pioneer spirit and recognition of the hardships many people endured.