Charles Warren Eaton Oil Painting

Value (2009) | $6,000 Auction$10,000 Auction

GUEST:
Hanging in my parents' house when I was a kid, and I never paid much attention to it. And from my point of view, I never saw it as anything special.

APPRAISER:
Well, it's the work of an artist called Charles Warren Eaton. Were you aware that it is actually signed?

GUEST:
No, I didn't, I didn't see any signature on it.

APPRAISER:
Could I do... I've done this before, but it's a little helpful to bring out the signature.

GUEST:
Oh.

APPRAISER:
See down here?

GUEST:
Oh, my gracious, so it is.

APPRAISER:
Charles Warren Eaton. I'm sorry for spitting on your painting. No offense.

GUEST:
No, that's okay.

APPRAISER:
So, presumably you don't really know anything about the artist. This is your first introduction to him.

GUEST:
I have no idea, no idea at all.

APPRAISER:
Could you perhaps tell me first how you came by the painting?

GUEST:
My grandfather was... founded a museum where I came from-- Youngstown, Ohio, the Butler Institute of American Art. Which is a magnificent museum. So naturally, there are good paintings in our house. But I never, as a kid, of course, paid... you don't pay much attention to paintings. And so after my parents passed away, none of my brothers and sisters wanted it, so I took it myself.

APPRAISER:
He was born in Albany, New York, in 1857, and he went on to study painting in New York City with his friends Leonard Ochtman and Ben Foster, who he was very close to. And they traveled together in Europe, too. But he's probably best known as part of a group of artists who were known as the Tonalists.

GUEST:
Tonalists?

APPRAISER:
Yeah. Probably the best know of them was George Inness, who was a great mentor to Charles Warren Eaton and used to paint... allow him to paint in the studio with him. It was something of a reaction to the Hudson River School, which were very dramatic, exciting views of nature. Before they were called Tonalists, they were referred to as Quietism. And I think, in a way, that name encapsulates what they were trying to do even more, because they're very quiet, gentle paintings. Very evocative of solitude. There's almost a meditative quality to them. And in a formal way, they tend to be unified by one hue. There's not great, stark contrasts. The brushwork tends to be quite softly applied rather than thick, expressive impasto. And the compositions are often quite simple, too. As, in this case, the trees, which became something of a signature for Charles Warren Eaton's work. And indeed he was known as the "Pine Tree Painter" after 1900. So my thought would be that this was probably painted post-1900 and probably either in Connecticut or in the Berkshires, where he did a lot of work, and is a very typical example of his work at that period. And this is oil paint on canvas, and you might want to give it a little bit of a clean. I should probably get a professional.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
It's a small-scale version for him. But he's quietly been moving up the market. There's been an increasing level of interest in his work that I've noticed at auction. For a work like this, on the auction market, I would expect it to fetch $6,000 to $10,000.

GUEST:
Boy. (laughs) It's going to take a more prominent place in my house from now on.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Freeman's Auctioneers
Philadelphia, PA
Appraised value (2009)
$6,000 Auction$10,000 Auction
Event
Phoenix, AZ (August 01, 2009)
Period
20th Century
Material
Canvas, Oil

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