Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Fireflies and Lightning, 1964-65; watercolor, graphite and white charcoal, 40 x 54 inches; Purchase made possible with funds from M&T Bank, an anonymous donor, William P. and A. Laura Brosnahan, the Vogt Family Foundation and the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation, 1998
Fireflies and Lightning
On View Tuesday, July 21–Sunday, October 11, 1998
The Burchfield Penney Art Center acquired Charles Burchfield's masterwork, Fireflies and Lightning, at Sotheby's auction on May 20, 1998. This significant addition to the Burchfield Penney’s renowned collection is a superb example of Burchfield's transcendent landscapes. In it, Burchfield captured the essence of a summer evening with an accurate transcription of the subtle muting of colors as the sun begins to fade while at the same time, he transformed familiar details with a discriminating measure of fantasy and abstraction. In his journal Burchfield confided, "That at seventy-one I am able to sustain a creative impulse long enough to complete so large a picture fills me with the hope of doing my best work from now on—and with gratitude to God for giving me the power."
This seminal work was exhibited with six studies for the painting that were a gift of the artist in 1967, as well as other contextual works. The purchase was made possible by M&T Bank, the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation, the Vogt Family Foundation, William and Laurie Brosnahan, an anonymous foundation and an anonymous donor. Prior to the acquisition by the Burchfield Penney, the piece had been in the collection of Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards.