Autumn Trees is a prime example of one of Homer's mid-career watercolors. Though prior to the 1870s Homer had employed the medium only intermittently, the year of 1873 marked a turning point in his use of the medium. From this point, works in watercolor suddenly came to encompass the majority of his output, and the following year marked Homer's first exhibition at the American Society of Painters in Watercolors; shortly thereafter, he became a full member. Autumn Trees, executed five years into Homer's mastery of the medium, was probably originally entitled Oak Trees. A piece by this name was exhibited in the 1879 American Water Color Society exhibition, and was the second-highest priced Homer work ($300). In a review of the show, the New York Herald mentions the piece by name: "…. Mr. Homer's 'October' (387), 'Oak Trees' (388), 'Corn' (401), 'Girl and Boat' (408) and his very admirable 'Willows' (414) are distinctly impressions and excellent works, and not intentions, as somebody has well entitled Mr. Currier's contributions."