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Charles Burchfield (1893-1967)


Ice Glare




Watercolor, charcoal and graphite pencil on paper


Sheet: 31 1/2 × 25 in. (80 × 63.5 cm) Mount (board): 31 1/2 × 25 1/4 in. (80 × 64.1 cm)

Credit line

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase

Accession number


Object Label

In August 1929, Charles Burchfield resigned from his job as a designer at the M. H. Birge & Sons wallpaper company in Buffalo, New York, to concentrate full-time on his art. While his financial solvency was not impacted by the onset of the Great Depression, his imagery was. In Ice Glare and other contemporaneous works, Burchfield shifted to a darker, more subdued palette, which he used to depict the buildings and empty streets of Buffalo “in all their garish and crude primitiveness and unlovely decay.” To create this image, Burchfield worked on site at the corner of Clinton and Lord Streets, making at least one preparatory drawing before embarking on the watercolor, as was his habit. Burchfield took great care to transcribe the details of the gridded sketch into the complex composition and varied surfaces of this snow-covered scene.

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