What Is Tonalism? (12 Essential Characteristics)
David Adams Cleveland
Illustrated and discussed in, A History of American Tonalism, p. 287.
Known as the “Pine Tree Painter” in his day for his transcendentalist renderings of white pines, Charles Warren Eaton was one of the profoundest interpreters of nature among the American Tonalists. As a follower of James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s aesthetic movement, he incorporated Asian design principals of patterning and formal abstraction in his early intimate works that dwelled on what George Inness called the “human landscape”—old stonewalls, worn paths, and abandoned pastures. By 1900, Eaton moved to a more gestural and expressive style, especially in his favored subjects of white pines and canal-side poplars, reminiscent of Claude Monet’s serial works. Eaton painted his beloved pines from every imaginable vantage point and in every lighting condition, creating symbolic works of powerful and graphic imagery, often verging on complete abstraction. Eaton was also a master watercolorist, on a par with his contemporaries Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, and Whistler.
American, 1857-1937, Albany, New York