• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 12165

    American Art

    22 November 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 81

    Charles Ephraim Burchfield (1893-1967)

    Crows at Twilight

    Price Realised  


    Charles Ephraim Burchfield (1893-1967)
    Crows at Twilight
    signed with initials in monogram and dated 'CEB/1948' (lower right)
    watercolor and gouache on paper laid down on board
    35 x 26 in. (88.9 x 66 cm.)
    Executed in 1948.

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    In the present work, Charles Burchfield has depicted a small flock of black crows perched on bare tree branches, on the eaves of a clapboard house and on the rooftop of a small spring house, all set within a vast and gloomy winter landscape. The relatively muted palette and gangly trees create a sense of melancholy that permeates the entire composition. Yet, despite the leafless, spindly branches that frame the work, the presence of the crows and small green leaves that peek out through the snow in the foreground hint at the imminent spring season ahead and give hope that life will soon return to the desolate landscape. Burchfield's affinity for sharply defined dichotomies--life and death as in the present work--can be seen throughout the later period of his career. "For Burchfield trees often want to be paired with dark birds, even if that bird is not an actual bird but a cloud in the shape of a bird's wing. In other words, the significance of these symbols for Burchfield was that he could use them to indicate contrasts." (N.V. Maciejunes, M.D. Hall, The Paintings of Charles Burchfield: North by Midwest, New York, 1997, p. 114)


    [With]Kennedy Galleries, Inc., New York.
    Acquired by the present owner from the above, 1978.

    Pre-Lot Text



    New York, Kennedy Galleries, Inc., Charles E. Burchfield: Watercolors and Drawings, 1915-1966, October 15-November 1, 1975, no. 22.
    New York, Kennedy Galleries, Inc., Charles E. Burchfield: The Middle Years, 1929 to 1950, October 24-November 25, 1978, no. 45.