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Burchfield, Charles Ephraim (1893- )

( Originally Published 1955 )

American genre and landscape watercolor painter, one of the earliest exponents of the rural American scene. Born in Salem, Ohio, he worked first as an accountant; later he attended the Cleveland School of Art on a scholarship. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War I, he worked as a designer of wallpaper until 1929, when he resigned to devote himself to painting. His early work (1916-18) consisted of landscapes in a romantic mood evocative of childhood visions. After the war, he did realistic watercolors of small-town ugliness and squalor similar in attitude to the stories in Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio. After that his work vacillated among scenes of romantic mystery, idealized and symbolic landscapes, and further realistic studies of small-town America, seen sympathetically and humorously, with an occasional note of grandeur. During the period of modernist experimentation after the decline of the Ashcan School, he maintained almost by himself the interest in the American scene which later developed into the regionalist movement.

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