Charles Burchfield (American, 1893-1967)
Sheet - h:51.40 w:36.20 cm (h:20 3/16 w:14 1/4 inches)
Hinman B. Hurlbut Collection
not on view
Burchfield described 1917—when he painted The Sun Through the Trees and a series of visionary watercolors—as a “miraculous year.” He frequently surrounded trees, stars, suns, plants, and insects with symbolic “notations,” or abstract decorative shapes and rhythmic patterns that expand like waves of heat or music. In his private journals, Burchfield indicated that one of the principal aims of his art was to evoke sensations of emotion and sound. The focus of this painting, the sun seen through trees, suggests a metaphor for spiritual ecstasy. Trees in Burchfield’s paintings often assume anthropomorphic qualities, as if personifying absent figures. The lone tree is often interpreted as a surrogate for the artist himself. Extremely shy and socially inhibited, Burchfield felt most comfortable when convening with nature by himself, like this isolated tree standing stiffly erect under a blazing sun.