Haystacks, Thompson, Connecticut, oil on canvas; 17" x 21" (image); 19" x 23" with frame; s.l.l. and dated 1889
Charles Warren Eaton was born in Albany, New York in 1857 and worked in a dry goods store until his early twenties. He moved to New York City in 1879 and attended classes at the National Academy and the Art Students League. In New York City he became friends with another Albany painter, Leonard Ochtman, and with Ben Foster. Possibly through their agency, he adopted the Tonalist style which was fast replacing the Hudson River style as the dominant American aesthetic. His tendencies in this direction were undoubtedly augmented when, in 1882, he met George Inness, who singled out Eaton’s work during a lecture he was giving. In 1886, Eaton took a New York studio adjacent to that of Inness. Inness purchased one of Eaton’s paintings, and the two became friends, Eaton sharing, for a time, Inness’s studio in Montclair, New Jersey. Upon the death of Inness in 1894, Eaton continued his friendship with the artist’s son, George Inness Jr.
Eaton first traveled to Europe in 1886 in the company of Foster and Ochtman. As his career progressed, he made regular trips abroad, finding the Flemish countryside and that near Lake Como in Italy to be sources of particular inspiration. His fascination during his later career with the pine forests of Connecticut let to his being nicknamed “the pine tree painter.”
Eaton exhibited extensively during the 1880s and 1890s, most commonly at the National Academy and its rival organization, the Society of Independent Artists, and he won numerous prizes internationally. Today his work can be found in many museums across America, including the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Columbus Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the San Diego Museum, the Montclair Museum of Art, the Georgia Museum of Art, the University of Michigan Art Museum, and the Arnot Art Museum.
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