EATON, MOSES, SR.
MOSES EATON JR.
were a father and son who practiced wall stenciling throughout New Hampshire and Maine. The Eatons were among the earliest and most influential of the itinerantdecorative painters who have been identified. They established a con vention of all-over patterning within bordered panels, which is now recognized as the “Eatonstyle.”Eaton Sr. was descended from early settlers of Dedham, Massachusetts, and served in the American Revolutionary War. In 1793, at the age of forty, he moved withhis family from Needham, Massachusetts, to Hancock, New Hampshire, where his son, Moses Jr., was born. Moses was probably trained by his father at an earlyage, and was reportedly proficient in the art of wall stenciling by the time he was eighteen.Stenciled wall decoration was most popular from about 1815 through the 1840s, predating the widespread affordability of wallpaper and coinciding nearly exactlywith the years that Eaton Jr. was active. It is now believed that Eaton formed a brief partnership during the 1820s with his contemporary, Rufus Porter (1792–1884),working primarily in southern New Hampshire and Maine. After his father’s death in 1833, Eaton Jr. may have traveled to the West from his home base in Dublin, New Hampshire, which possibly accounts for the presence in Tennessee and Indiana of interiors unmistakably decorated in the Eaton style, although it is not known if Eaton or a copyist actually painted these homes.Of father and son, Eaton Jr. seems to have been the more prolific, and is the better-documented artist. His home in Dublin survived in the family for severalgenerations, as did his stencil kit along with a grainpainted box containing ten panels with painted and stamped designs. The kit includes eight brushes, seventy-eightstencils cut from heavy oiled paper, and several small, wooden stamps. Traces of paint on these materials indicate the colors favored by Eaton: green, yellow, and red;in Maine he seems to have occasionally added pink and mulberry. The stencils form forty complete designs, included weeping willows, pineapples, flower sprays,leaves, as well as various borders with swags and tassels, bells, and other motifs. No registration marks appear on the stencils, implying that Eaton relied on his eyealone for proper placement. Based on these contents, it has been possible to identify a large number of home decoration as Eaton’s work, and a great many more showat least his influence. In addition to wall stenciling, the sample box suggests that Eaton was also able to provide imaginative and realistic grain-painted treatments for areas of wood paneling and perhaps furniture.The pervasiveness of the Eaton style is demonstrated in a study of stenciled interiors that was conducted by Margaret Fabian from 1981 to 1988. At least half of thestenciled walls documented in New Hampshire were the work of the Eatons or else directly influenced by them.
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