Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), The Window by the Alley, 1917; watercolor, pencil and crayon on paper mounted on board, 22 x 26 inches; Courtesy Peter Findlay Gallery
Inscribed, signed and dated on verso, bottom right: To Dr. & Mrs. / Ritchie, CEB/1917
(Dr. Ritchie was Director of the Albright Art Gallery July 1, 1942-January 1, 1949. Burchfield served two terms as a member of the Board of Directors 1948-51 and 1952-55.)
The Window by the Alley (September 5, 1917) exemplifies the comic twist Burchfield occasionally instilled in some of his favorite places. The wild cucumber curlicue over the window, sad faced petunias, and zigzag cricket chirps make an enchanted sight of Mrs. Weaver and her home next door. She raised her sons alone, so Burchfield often played with the younger Weaver boys. He was a sympathetic neighbor, since he was only five years old when his father died.[i] Her quaint cottage appeared in many paintings, distinctive because its tall chimney seems out of proportion for such a small, low dwelling. The Weaver home became a nostalgic symbol of childhood hopes and fears.--NW
[i] In different accounts, Burchfield said he was four when his father died; but records show that William Burchfield died September 7, 1898, when Burchfield would have been five.