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Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Mushroom Botanicals, November 16, 1911; ink on paper; Charles E. Burchfield Foundation Archives, Gift of the Charles E. Burchfield Foundation, 2006

Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Mushroom Botanicals, November 16, 1911; ink on paper; Charles E. Burchfield Foundation Archives, Gift of the Charles E. Burchfield Foundation, 2006

In a footnote to his interview with Charles Burchfield (Oral History, August 19, 1959, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution), John D. Morse recalls their conversations: “During lunch, Mr. Burchfield spoke of mushrooms—we had had some mushrooms with our lunch—and he told us what they were. I said, ‘Well, do you know about mushrooms? Could you tell poisonous ones from edible ones?’ He said, ‘Oh, surely.’ And of course that was completely in character. As a boy he must have known all about mushrooms, with his love of nature and love of everything that grows... And he described then with joy the beauty of a huge, poisonous mushroom that appeared one morning in his backyard. He said it had a beautiful white, both underneath and on top, as big as a coffee cup, enough to kill a hundred people. He said the mushroom destroys the red corpuscles and then you simply suffocate. He pointed out very factually that when you know that you have been poisoned by mushrooms, it is too late!”

Content developed by Tullis Johnson, Brian Grunert and Kyle Morrisey for the exhibition Charles E. Burchfield: By Design

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  • Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), WINTER, 1912; paper folder with loose drawings; Charles E. Burchfield Foundation Archives Gift of the Charles E. Burchfield Foundation, 2006

    Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), WINTER, 1912; paper folder with loose drawings; Charles E. Burchfield Foundation Archives Gift of the Charles E. Burchfield Foundation, 2006