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The Cover
December 2, 1998

The Mysterious Bird

Author Affiliations

Edited by M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 1998;280(21):1810. doi:10.1001/jama.280.21.1810

A lone bird, a barren tree, an overcast sky—images that inspired and intrigued Charles Burchfield (1893-1967). Unlike most other early 20th-century American landscape artists, Burchfield preferred painting the retreat of winter, the decaying of foliage in a field, or a glimpse of the sun peering through the clouds. Nature's ever-changing display influenced Burchfield's fanciful, mood-creating style.

Born in Ashtabula, Ohio, in 1893, Burchfield spent his childhood in Salem, Ohio. By age 23, he had graduated from the Cleveland School of Art (currently the Cleveland Institute of Art) and moved to New York City with a full scholarship to attend the National Academy of Design. Homesick for his family and the natural surroundings of Salem, he returned home after spending only a month in New York. While there, however, he exhibited his work at a local bookstore and spent considerable time sketching and painting. Once back in Salem, he worked as an accountant and painted in his spare time. Finally, at age 27, he dedicated his life to painting.

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