White Violets and Coal Mine

White Violets and Coal Mine


Charles Burchfield

(American, 1893-1967)

Watercolor and gouache over graphite on wove paper

Sheet: 58.8 x 54 cm (23 1/8 x 21 1/4 in.)

Hinman B. Hurlbut Collection 1937.3202

Catalogue raisonné: Straus 313; Trovato 442


Did you know?

Most of the mines around Burchfield's hometown, Salem, Ohio, were out of use and abandoned even in his own time.


Around 1918, Charles Burchfield began to explore and draw deserted mines around his hometown, abandoned after their resources were depleted. Many of these works were made just before he was drafted into World War I, a time characterized by intense anxiety and depression. He saw a connection between these emotions and the mines he visited, which he described as having “dark and gloomy depths . . . a luring mysteriousness.” Here, he portrayed the cave as a seemingly infinite space, contrasting its shadowy interior with white violets blooming from cracks in the rocky landscape.

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