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William M. Paxton Portrait

William M. Paxton

Also Known as: William McGregor Paxton, William Paxton, W. M. Paxton

Baltimore, Maryland 1869

Newton, Massachusetts 1941

Active in:

  • Boston, Massachusetts

Photo Caption:
William M. Paxton, 1931, Peter A. Juley & Son Collection, Smithsonian American Art Museum J0002037


Painter. Paxton painted the leisured class. Considered old-fashioned by some modernists, he was a prominent genre and portrait painter in the Beaux Arts style.

Joan Stahl American Artists in Photographic Portraits from the Peter A. Juley & Son Collection (Washington, D.C. and Mineola, New York: National Museum of American Art and Dover Publications, Inc., 1995)

Additional Biographies

Luce Artist Biography

William M. Paxton won a scholarship to attend the Cowles Art School in Boston at the age of eighteen. He went to Paris shortly thereafter to study at the École des Beaux-Arts and the Académie Julian. Inspired by the compositional arrangements of the seventeenth-century Dutch master Vermeer, and the realism and surface detail in the works of the French neoclassical painter Ingres, Paxton used carefully rendered color to make his portraits as true to life as possible. His middle-class upbringing made him keenly aware of social conventions, and upon returning to New England, he created  paintings focused on the domestic opulence of the upper-class. Paxton is best known for his depictions of serene women of the leisure class and their domestic servants, enveloped in finely decorated interiors.