Like many of his contemporaries, Charles Burchfield viewed nature as a source of revelation. Each season, every time of day, called forth a distinct mood that he wanted to capture and communicate through visionary forms. From late 1916 to early 1918, Burchfield produced an extraordinary group of imaginative watercolors that recalled his childhood fascination with natural forces. Noontide in Late May was one of these works, painted soon after he returned to Ohio from a brief and unhappy sojourn in New York City. Based on a view of his neighbor’s garden in Salem, Ohio, this vivid, exuberant watercolor is more than a record of external fact. His neighbor’s backyard becomes a fantastic landscape of spring blooms, seemingly pulsating with life. Burchfield wrote on the back of this painting in pencil, describing it as “an attempt to interpret a child’s impression of noon-tide in late May—The heat of the sun streaming down & rosebushes making the air drowsy with their perfume.”
Patterson Sims. Charles Burchfield: A Concentration of Works from the Permanent Collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art. Exhibition catalogue. (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1980), 13.