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Burchfield's 'Winter Scene' painting returns to Buffalo

Burchefield Penney Art Center

An early twentieth century depiction of Niagara Street in winter is returning to town after the Burchfield Penney Art Center had an unexpected win at an art auction earlier this week.

Charles Burchfield's "Winter Scene with Children" was purchased from a private collector for $40,000 in an auction at Sotheby's on Tuesday.

"We actually expected that it might go for even more. We were fortunate that if it went any higher we wouldn't have been able to purchase it," says Scott Propeack, Associate Director and Chief Curator at the museum based on the Buffalo State Campus.

Transporting the painting will require another $10,000 with the purchase and related costs coming from a donor fund designed to make such purchases as various works become available. 

“We were watching it for about two months,” Propeack says.

The newest addition to the collection will be available for public display in the coming months.  The 1928 watercolor, shown above, depicts a street scene of days gone by.

"It's representing a city that looks very different today than it did at that time.  Lower Niagara Street was houses. It's kids playing in the snow, something we should celebrate," Propeack says.

It is also significant because it comes from a time when Burchfield was not yet a full-time artist creating his own works.

"It's an image of Buffalo from the early 20th century, and one from a time when he was not making many paintings, because he was working at the Birge Wallpaper Company, and so he could ony paint in hours when he wasn't  working, " Propeack says.

The painting is en route to Buffalo and will be incorporated into a new exhibition shortly, he says.

Founded in 1966, the Burchfield Penney Art Center maintains the world’s largest collection of the artist's work.