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Elizabeth Eaton Burton (1869–1937) was an American artist and designer whose work typified the Arts and Crafts style in southern California.[1]

Elizabeth was born in Paris, France, in 1869, to Charles Frederick Eaton and Helen Justice Mitchell. Her father was an artist and designer who worked in such media as metal, glass, and leather. He taught her drawing and the rudiments of other media, which turned out to be almost the only art training she ever received. Elizabeth suffered from health issues, so when she was around 17, the family emigrated to the west coast of the United States, settling down near Santa Barbara, California.[2] Charles Eaton developed into a landscape architect, and the house he built for his family, Riso Rivo, in then-semi-rural Montecito featured a lotus pond with a Japanese teahouse.[3] In an extensive scrapbook that Elizabeth kept (published in 2011),[4] she paints a vivid picture of life in southern California, although she intially found the surroundings "in some ways primitive" compared to her family's former cosmopolitan life.[5]

In 1893, Burton married William W. "Billy" Burton, who was involved in real estate. They had a son (Phillip) and a daughter (Helen).

Burton began her career by exhibiting work at art shows and craft fairs in southern California. As her work developed, the range of media she worked in expanded until it embraced metalwork, stained glass, bookbinding, and tooled leather, as well as print media (woodcuts) and watercolor.[2] Many of her works feature floral motifs, and there is a clear influence from Asian art in both style and subject matter that is especially evident in her prints.[6] Typical of her work in the Arts and Crafts style are copper lamps shaped as abstract flowers with abalone shells forming the shade. Other lamps had botanical elements incorporated through repoussé techniques.[6]

In 1896, Burton opened her own studio in Santa Barbara where she specialized in decorative objects made of metal, leather, and shell.[5] As the new century started, she was showing her work on both coasts. In 1904, both she and her father participated in the arts exhibits at the St. Louis World's Fair, with Elizabeth showing leatherwork inlaid with shell or decorated with silver leaf.[7]

In 1909, Burton opened a studio in the Blanchard Building in Los Angeles, and that same year she won a medal at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle (another event at which both she and her father both exhibited). In 1920, she began a two-year world tour that included a stop in Paris for advanced art training and exhibitions in Peking, Shanghai, London, and New York.[2]

One of Burton's fountains, made of copper with a koi motif, is in the lobby of the Mammoth Hotel in Yellowstone National Park.[8]

Burton died in Los Angeles on November 15, 1937.


  1. ^ Thiessen, Victoria Rodriguez. "Elizabeth Eaton Burton". Antiques, vol. 161, no. 4 (April 2002), pp. 96–97.
  2. ^ a b c "Elizabeth Eaton Burton". Annex Gallery website.
  3. ^ Beresford, Hattie. "The Way It Was: Franceschi and Eaton Landscape Montecito". Montecito Journal, May 31, 2007.
  4. ^ Burton, Elizabeth Eaton. My Santa Barbara Scrap Book: A Portrait of the Artist. Santa Barbara Historical Society, 2011.
  5. ^ a b Beresford, Hattie. "The Way It Was: My Santa Barbara Scrapbook: 1886-1910". Montecito Journal, May 31, 2007.
  6. ^ a b Kirkham, Pat. Women Designers in the USA, 1900-2000: Diversity and Difference. Yale University Press, 2002.
  7. ^ Brandt, Beverly Kay. The Craftsman and the Critic: Defining Usefulness and Beauty in Arts and Crafts–Era Boston. University of Massachusetts Press, 2009, p. 236.
  8. ^ Bingham, Sallie. "Water and a Shell: The Almost Forgotten Work of Elizabeth Eaton Burton". Sallie Bingham blog, Feb. 6, 2013.