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Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Over the Porch Roof, 1933-37; watercolor on paper, 22 x 30 inches; in a vintage Burchfield frame; Promised Bequest Gift of Mrs. Roy W. Doolittle, Jr.

Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Over the Porch Roof, 1933-37; watercolor on paper, 22 x 30 inches; in a vintage Burchfield frame; Promised Bequest Gift of Mrs. Roy W. Doolittle, Jr.

Charles E. Burchfield painted Over the Porch Roof from an upstairs bedroom window to preserve early glimmers of approaching spring, writing that it represented: “A day in March when the first hint of green in the grass and ruddy color in the trees can be seen.” By grounding the view point from his own home, Burchfield presented not only a geometrically interesting composition and view to the outer world; but he also suggested the sense of comfort that home represented for him. He started this technique of painting views from his home in Salem, Ohio from 1916 through 1920. It became a way that he mediated the landscape to represent not only what was familiar to him personally, but what many other Americans would experience. He took up the practice again after moving from Buffalo to Gardenville, a section of West Seneca in 1925.

Geometric patterns contrast manmade elements with the sinuous, verticality of trees. Horizontal bands of sky, town skyline, Buffalo Creek, rain-filled street, trees, muddy verge, and sidewalk are anchored by the diagonal, shingled roofline. Gloomy gray clouds left behind puddles of rainwater reflecting silver light. The painting exposes Burchfield’s yearning for spring’s awakening of the earth.—NW