Charles Burchfield

Night Scene
1935

Artist
Charles Burchfield

Title
Night Scene

Date
1935

Medium
Transparent and opaque watercolor, pastel, and charcoal on paper

Dimensions
Sheet: 16 7/8 × 26 7/8 in. (42.9 × 68.3 cm)

Classification
Drawings

Credit line
Gift of Charles Simon

Accession number
77.117

Rights and reproductions information
© artist or artist’s estate

Description
Following in a long tradition of American painters who used their art to celebrate the majesty and grandeur of the national landscape, Charles Burchfield imbued his images of the natural world with a sense of spirituality and mystery. In Night Scene, the central subject is the sky, made dramatic through the exaggerated contrast of the dark clouds and vibrant moonlight. The bright, radiating circles of light that punctuate the composition suggest disembodied eyes or perhaps fireflies. Here, as in all of Burchfield’s work, the varying effects of light, atmosphere, weather, and time of day—which the artist methodically recorded—are not simply empirical details but rather are vehicles for conveying a range of moods and emotions.