William McGregor Paxton, “The Red Fan”

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William McGregor Paxton (American, 1869–1941), The Red Fan, 1906, oil on canvas, 72″ x 48″. Gift of Mrs. Elizabeth Paxton, 1953.01.001.

William McGregor Paxton

Like many of his contemporaries, William McGregor Paxton studied at the Académie Julian in Paris. After returning to Boston, he applied his new skills to the depiction of the American middle class, producing portraits and idyllic domestic scenes. Paxton taught at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School from 1906 to 1913. He was a co-founder of The Guild of Boston Artists and is associated with the Boston School.

Paxton was well known for the attention he gave to the effects of light and detail in flesh and fabric. His works often present idealized views of women, such as this portrait of his wife Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Vaughn Okie Paxton (1877–1971) was born in Providence, Rhode Island. She began her art studies at the Cowles Art School met William Paxton there. After they married she continued her career as a painter and is known for both her still lifes and figure studies.

While in France, William Paxton studied with the celebrated French artist, Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824–1904). Like several of Boston colleagues, Paxton was also inspired by the seventeenth-century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675).