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Charles Warren Eaton


Gallery Database:


Charles Warren Eaton (1857-1937). "Oaks Pond," oil on canvas, 20 x 24, signed. Lemon gold frame as shown.


Curator's Comment:

Charles Warren Eaton (1857-1937) and Charles Harry Eaton are both major painters of American landscape masterpieces. And both migrated to New Jersey for their best work. But in no other way are they related. Mistakes to the contrary are frequent. Because both painters produced some of the most important natural images in the years following the Hudson River school. Charles Warren Eaton was influenced by two major periods of European study. The first made him a leader among American tonalists.   He became a close friend of Leonard Ochtman and Ben Foster, both tonalists, and traveled with them to France and England where each formed their own style in reaction to the pervasive Barbizon mode. Eaton stayed in Europe, painting in Brolles, near Barbizon, where he made a pilgrimage to the home of Jean Francois Millet.

In 1882, Eaton met George Inness at the Art Students League. Writing to Ochtman, Eaton described a lecture Inness gave one day to his composition class. He was deeply impressed by it, and Inness singled out Eaton’s work for showing promise. Eaton was guided by the poetic style of Inness and its desire to convey the underlying moods of nature, favoring quieter, more intimate views, which he depicted at dawn or dusk. His still landscapes portray the fading light on autumn meadows that his tonalism focused on. His intimate, moody landscapes were known for subdued golden-brown and green hues and muted tonal harmonies. About 1900, Eaton discovered the white pine forests of Connecticut, near his summer haunt of Thompson. For the ten years that followed, he made the white pine tree motif his primary subject, and he was often called “The Pine Tree Painter.” These works soon secured his reputation as one of the country’s leading landscape tonalists, and note that his major 2004 retrospective was entitled: Intimate Landscapes: Charles Warren Eaton and the Tonalist Movement in American art, 1880-1920.


Charles Warren Eaton


Study how "Pine Tree" tonalism is trnasformed into monochromatic Green Symphony of Oaks Pond.  

Eaton began extended stays in Italy after 1910, staying for the first time at Lake Como. His Italian stays redirected his work in a major way. Tonalism gives way to a subtle realism that resulted in late masterpieces where tone becomes hue, and we thinks Oaks Pond is a symphony of green hues that is perfectly beautiful. Eaton limited his palette to monochromatic values and sharpened his vision to capture not reflected glorified light but the inherent radiance of his subjects. Harmony is all in these brilliant paintings that were his final achievement as a landscape artist. We  are still thrilled by the perfection of the green world of Oaks Pond.

Eaton was born in 1857 in Albany, NY. His first few years in New York were difficult; nonetheless, Eaton was an adept student, and his first landscape paintings won quick approval from juries, critics, and collectors. By 1882 he was exhibiting at the National Academy of Design. In 1888 Eaton moved to Bloomfield, New Jersey, to be near Montclair, where an Inness-led art community was taking shape. But he maintained a studio in New York City. He won prize after prize: Inness Prize, Salmagundi Club, 1902; gold medal, Philadelphia Art Club, 1903;  Inness Gold Medal, National Academy of Design, 1904; gold medal, Paris Salon, 1906. Now his paintings hang in the Smithsonian, the Brooklyn Museum, and other major museums nationwide.

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