Edited by M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.
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
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.
Martin B. The Mysterious Bird. JAMA. 1998;280(21):1810. doi:10.1001/jama.280.21.1810