Fires of Spring in Big Woods, 1951

by Charles Burchfield (1893–1967)
Watercolor and pencil on joined paper
39½ x 29¼ inches (sight size)
Estate stamp lower right


Frank K.M. Rehn Galleries, New York, New York

Andrew Crispo Gallery, New York, New York

Kennedy Galleries, New York, New York

Private collection, Connecticut

Sale, Shannon’s Fine Art Auctioneers, Milford, Connecticut, April 28, 2022, lot 35


Frank K.M. Rehn Galleries, New York, New York, Charles Burchfield: Watercolors, Our Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition, October 1–20, 1973

Andrew Crispo Gallery, New York, New York, Ten Americans, May 16–June 30, 1974

Kennedy Galleries, New York, New York, Charles E. Burchfield Watercolors: Visual Music, October 13–November 13, 1976

Kennedy Galleries, New York, New York, Burchfield's Seasons, April 28–May 29, 1982

Burchfield Penney Art Center at SUNY Buffalo State, New York, Shared Light: G. Peter Jemison and Charles E. Burchfield, September 9–December 31, 2022


Ten Americans: Avery, Burchfield, Demuth, Dove, Homer, Hopper, Marin, Prendergast, Sargent, Wyeth. May 16–June 30 (New York: Andrew Crispo Gallery, 1974).

Charles E. Burchfield Watercolors: Visual Music (New York: Kennedy Galleries, Inc., 1976), 41, fig. 41.

John I. H. Baur, The Inlander: Life and Work of Charles Burchfield, 1893–1967 (Newark, DE: University of Delaware Press, 1982), 226, plate XLIV.

Kevin J. Avery, “Kennedy Galleries, N.Y., Exhibit,” Arts Magazine 57 (September 1982): 17.

Colleen Lahan Makowski, Charles Burchfield: An Annotated Bibliography (Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1996), 105.

Nannette V. Maciejunes and Michael D. Hall, The Paintings of Charles Burchfield: North by Midwest (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1997), 43–45, fig. 17.

Related Works

Flame of Spring, 1948, watercolor on paper, 40 x 30 inches; Munson-Williams Proctor Arts Institute, Utica, New York

Note: This painting exemplifies Burchfield’s interest in nature and the changing seasons, which he often depicted in an expressive and simplified manner. Burchfield discussed his views on spring throughout his journals, writing, “There had been forming in my mind an idea of showing deep winter in a woods, but with openings at the top of a hill showing the fires of spring. I soon picked my spot and set up my easel.”[1] Lawrence A. Fleischman described the musicality of the work when he wrote, “Many artists love to listen to music, but few have ever succeeded to portray nature’s music as successfully as Burchfield. His visual sound, the essence of his art, most apparent in ‘Fires of Spring in the Big Woods – February, 1951,’ ‘Heat Waves in a Swamp’ and ‘Pine Hollow in Spring’ – is a Burchfield invention.”[2]

[1] Charles E. Burchfield, Journals, vol. 52, February 4, 1951, 25–28. [2] Lawrence A. Fleischman, introduction to Charles E. Burchfield Watercolors: Visual Music (New York: Kennedy Galleries, Inc., 1976), n.p.

Artist Biography

Watercolorist with Romantic Realist Vision of American Life

By Amy Spencer

Best known for his romantic watercolors, Burchfield developed a unique style, swinging between realism and fantasy, to express his profound respect for the American landscape.

I. Biography
II. Chronology
III. Collections
IV. Exhibitions
V. Memberships
VI. Notes
VII. Suggested Resources

I. Biography

Charles Ephraim Burchfield is celebrated for his visionary paintings of the American

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