Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Summer Shower and Sunlight (Summer Shower), May 1916; transparent watercolor and graphite on white watercolor paper, 14 x 9-7/8 inches; Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, Museum of Art, Utica, NY, Edward W. Root Bequest, 57.106; Image courtesy of the Charles E. Burchfield Archives
Charles E. Burchfield, Autograph letter signed (ALS) to J. J. Lankes, Hilton Village, Virginia, April 14, 1929
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Apr. 14, 1929
This is written on a train going from Utica to Buffalo — the train shakes some so this may be hard to read.
I have been to visit the Root’s — Edward Root, who is the son of Elihu, is the Dean of Fine Arts at Hamilton College near Utica. He bought one of my paintings last year & this February while up at Buffalo he came out to see me with his wife and a Buffalo friend. While they were there I happed to pick up a portfolio of my early water-colors & showed them. They were very enthusiastic over them & as their time was short they invited me down for the next week-end & bring the others down. Root thought that Rehn ought to see them, so he invited him up for the next week-end too. Well the upshot of it was that Rehn has the whole collection down in New York, and has started to market them — at prices I never thought they would bring — at least while I was alive. Rehn says their value lies in the fact that they are like the work of another artist who is gone for it is obvious that I will never paint anything like them again. Root bought ten of them.
Well, I’m going into this more elaborately than necessary but the Roots turned out to be fine people to know, and I find we have a lot in common in the interest in trees & birds & wild-flowers (I find it remarkable how little most artists care about these — in fact I can think of none whom I have met who care what hepaticas are or when to expect the first bluebirds). They have a wonderful old Colonial home set in a beautiful estate, on which are some remarkable fine elms & pines & other evergreens. Root is a great lover of pictures & prints and books – his study is a veritable gold mine for an artist. They live a simple dignified life there that somehow seems thoroughly American and in that way belies the typical brassy helter-skelter life that is usually conjured up by the word American. Every room in the house I believe has a fireplace, and full of innumerable interesting objects that only a collector with taste could assemble. So far as I could determine he has only bought so far American paintings. He may have some foreign prints, but I didn’t see any — he has your woodblock of the Cider Mill and he likes your work. He has innumerable reproductions of foreign paintings & looks on them, but doesn’t seem to care about buying originals….