Nighthawks At Twilight

Charles E. Burchfield

American, 1893 - 1967

Nighthawks at Twilight, 1917-49

  • Not On View

Watercolor on paper

Dimensions: 34 3/8 × 48 1/2 in. (87.3 × 123.2 cm)
Framed: 43 × 57 in. (109.2 × 144.8 cm)

Gift of the Viola E. Bray Charitable Trust, 1964.3

Charles Burchfield, a native of Ohio, was raised in the town of Salem and studied at the Cleveland Institute of Art from 1912 to 1916. Although Burchfield has come to be regarded as one of the Realists known as the American Scene Painters, or Regionalists, this was a label he rejected. Burchfield’s unique style suggests the work of a romantic visionary, and is remarkable for its imaginative landscapes that he rendered most often in watercolor. It is from his early period that the essential conception for Nighthawks at Twilight derives. Burchfield commenced work on the watercolor in 1917, which the artist later termed his "golden year," during which he executed over two hundred images. Burchfield returned to this work after a lengthy interval, completing it in 1949. In the 1940s he broke away from Realism and a revisited his earlier, more evocative approach to painting. This return was characterized by an even more pronounced emphasis on expressing his response to the environment. The late works exhibit a particular mood of foreboding in their embellished and stylized execution, an effect he achieved by employing startling contrasts, abundant black outlines, and dramatic draftsmanship.

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