Charles E. Burchfield in his own words Share Tweet

Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), August Pasture, 1921; watercolor and charcoal on paper, 21 1/4 x 29 1/2 inches; Burchfield Penney Art Center, Gift of the Burchfield Foundation, 1975

Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), August Pasture, 1921; watercolor and charcoal on paper, 21 1/4 x 29 1/2 inches; Burchfield Penney Art Center, Gift of the Burchfield Foundation, 1975

Charles Burchfield, Journals, July 3, 1942

Monday, July 3, 2017


The Dvorak Symphony No. 1 for Father's Day - (last Sunday).

It is a magnificent Symphony, in the grand romantic manner of Beethoven and Schubert. In some ways, I think it is the best of all I have heard so far (1, 2 + 5) As in most of his music, there is a strong feeling of nostalgia or yearning, running thru the whole symphony - As I listen vague longing and regret for scenes and events past, come over me. One scene evoked is a broad low valley running north and south - it is late April; the low sun sends rich yellow sunlight streaming over the land, striking the wooded hills with the strongest light - Robins are singing and a boy is going along a dirt road to his home near a group of cottonwoods.

Another scene is a momentary one, a rolling landscape to the east - a storm had just passed, the thunder still to be heard -

The second movement has a strong mood of religion - of resignation, coupled with an infinite melancholy.

Both the first, and the last movements have a strong heroic feeling, in the manner of the victory music of the early 19th century symphonies (for which Beethoven set the style)

Each time I play it it is new.

July 1 - P.M.  All of us but Sally to south Boston for a picnic. Up the hill road, park just north of the black walnut tree. We all enter a pasture with an old orchard in it, the youngsters running on ahead, towards a wooded ravine. Two cows under a tree by the road. Shortly after, a farmer coming up toward the cows. We thought it best to ask his permission to eat there, and he agreed pleasantly. He told me that the two cows were all that were left of a herd of 42 - that the owner had died recently, and an auction had been held, netting $7500 - forty cows sold, some of them for $150.

A strange, beautiful day - a thick mist fills the air and sky - the sun is a pale ineffectual glow high in the west. The hills to the east were filmed over with a thick bluish white veil, the furthest ones, hardly visible at all - I had the feeling of being in a vast room, as tho one could almost reach up and touch the sky - from all sides came the little contented songs of various birds -

We followed the youngsters down to the ravine, noting various trees + plants along the way. It was pleasant in the woods, the cool weather having kept the mosquitos (sic) away, (to me, the bane of the woods in summer).

Eat our lunch out in the open - the wind so cool we all need wraps - afterwards, the children for another hike, while B + I walk up the road a piece. Once we (I am sorry to say) amused ourselves throwing stones at a hug bumble-bee that had alighted in the middle of the road. Neither of us could hit it, and eventually it flew leisurely away. Another time I was throwing lumps of dirt at (CD) bees in a little ditch; a car slowed up, and the driver asked if we had found a snake. - Not wishing to admit I was throwing at bees, I said nothing, so Bertha spoke up " We were just admiring the flowers" - The driver looked as if he wanted to say that throwing stones at flowers was a strange mode of appreciation, but he drove on.

Home at 8:00

July 2 - A group of drafters leave for camp. Our supervisor had requested as many people as possible, join an automobile escort to give them a send-off. So Sally, Cathie + Art + I go in our car.

Balance of day spent in taking an inventory of the frames I have in the shed.

July 3 - Get out the "Wheat field + Maple" to study it.

In this picture there is, in the distance beyond the wheat field a number of groups of trees, with a vista between. I get two feelings from these; one is of South-east on a hot July midmorning, - looking (CD) harvested fields from the worn porch of a farmhouse, where there is heard the cheerful clatter of kitchen activity - the vista to the southeast extends to infinity. The other is over a number of groves to the Northeast, just around the edge of one is seen a wide misty valley extending out to the infinite, a vast unknown, undiscovered land, thousands of miles in extent. One boy might say to another "Let's see today, what is beyond that woods to the Northeast"

For some time Spotty has been gradually grown fatter (sic) and less inclined to walk, but it is not until today that it is plain that something is wrong. She does not want to move much and breathes in short panting breaths.

Evening - M.A. + I to see "Eagle Squadron" which was a very fine picture of the war. There was also a cartoon, with a woodpecker as the leading character, a very whimsical and delightful piece. Afterwards we got refreshments at a soda fountain, then took a short walk around Lafayette square. There was a delightful cool breeze and everything had such a clean sparkling look. Meet Gerry Ryan

When we returned home, we found only Bertha + Art in the house, the studio lit up. B - said Spotty seemed worse and the other youngsters had her out in the studio. After talking it over, we decided to take her to a veterinarian in the morning. We made her as comfortable as possible in a straw nest in the shed, and left her there for the night.

Charles E. Burchfield, July 3 - 1942