Charles Warren Eaton

Artist Biography

Known as “the pine tree painter,” Charles Warren Eaton was a leading second-generation American tonalist known for his mastery of the watercolor medium. In 1879, Eaton left his hometown of Albany, New York and moved to New York, where he enrolled as a part-time student at both the Art Students League and the National Academy of Design. The beginning of his formal academic training coincided perfectly with the rise of American tonalism in the 1880s; he began to paint subtle, atmospheric landscape echoing the poetic approach of George Inness, and executed with a level of proficiency which secured his reputation as one of the most promising American talents of the period. In 1890, Childe Hassam and Eaton became two of the founding members of the New York Water Color Club, an influential artist organization at the forefront of the tonalist movement.(1)

Tonalism peaked in popularity during the 1890s, at which point Eaton had begun to incorporate a darker, more abstracted approach to his landscape compositions. In 1900, Eaton’s style shifted and he adopted a more gestural, expressive method, which he applied to his depictions of the white pine forests in Connecticut—works which were integral to his impressive legacy in American art. Eaton went abroad during the first decade of the twentieth century, which resulted in lovely landscape scenes depicting areas throughout Belgium, Holland, and northern Italy, particularly Venice and Lake Como. He was hired by the Great Northern Railroad Company in 1921 to paint Glacier Lake in Glacier National Park—twenty-one paintings stemmed from this commission, which were among the last of his painted works.

Eaton experienced a rapid rise to artistic fame, producing award-winning oils, watercolors, and pastel works that were displayed in exhibitions including the National Academy of Design, Salmagundi Club, the 1893 World Columbian Exposition, the Exposition Universelle in Paris, and Pan-American Exposition in 1910, to name a few. Today, his works can be seen in the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Georgia Museum of Art, Indiana State Museum, Montclair Art Museum, San Diego Museum of Art, and Smithsonian American Art Museum.

David Cleveland, “The New York Water Color Club," The Magazine Antiques CLXVIII (November 2005), 117.

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