Charles Warren Eaton (1857 - 1937 )

Charles Warren Eaton was one of the original members of the Tonalist Movement in the United Satets. Born in Albany in 1857, Eaton never showed much interest in art until his twenties, when he moved to New York City to study at the Art Students League. In 1886, he traveled to Europe with fellow artists and friends Leonard Ochtman and Ben Foster, both Tonalist painters. While in Europe, they developed their own style after being exposed to the French Barbizon style of painting rural landscapes.

Eaton returned to the United States in 1887 and moved to Bloomfield, New Jersey. It was here that he would reside for ten years and paint a variety of landscapes focusing on autum and winter scenes. In 1889, Eaton met George Inness, another famous American painter in the Barbizan mode. Inness' poetic landscapes were the main influence on his aesthetic, moving him even more toward a Tonalist style. Eaton's works of the 1890s are particularly beautiful, usually depicting quiet late autumn and winter landscapes that share Inness' subjective exploitation of moody light effects.

Eaton became known for intimate, moody landscapes with subdued golden-brown hues and muted tonal harmonies. He continued to live in Bloomfield, although he kept a studio in New York City. By 1900, his work was getting less attention as newer, more modern styles became popular. Eaton's last paintings indicate a break from the Tonalist movement; during this late phase he made summer trips to Italy. Eaton died in 1937 in New York City. (DJM)

Sunset on the Morristown Canal

Sunset on the Morristown Canal, c.1890-1900, oil on canvas, 24 x 56 inches. Photograph courtesy Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York City (see link below).
The Strip of Pines

The Strip of Pines, 1908, oil on canvas, 30 1/2 x 36 1/4 inches. Courtesy of the Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, NJ. Gift of William T. Evans, 1915.20.

Although painted in 1908, The Strip of Pines is typical of the dark, quiet, Barbizon-influenced paintings for which the artist was best known. According to one source, "During his lifetime, Eaton was acclaimed for Tonalist landscapes such as 'The Strip of Pines,' in which harmonious values of a single color prevail." The same writer notes that the "'Pine Tree Painter,' who never married, was essentially solitary. . ."(1) His move to Bloomfield, New Jersey was made in search of the tranquility and quiet that eluded him in New York City.

(1)Diane P. Fischer, "Charles Warren Eaton," in Montclair Art Museum: Selected Works (Montclair Art Museum and Rutgers University Press, 2002), p.89.

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