Arts Everyday Living: The Inspiration of Vermeer–William M. Paxton & the Art of the Interior

William McGregor Paxton, The House Maid, 1910, oil on canvas, Corcoran Collection (Museum Purchase Gallery Fund), National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.


Title: The House Maid, 1910

Artist: William McGregor Paxton (1869-1941)

Have you heard of the Boston School? These American artists, working mainly in the late 19th century and early 20th century, will be featured today as well as succeeding blogs. Here are some Fast Facts about William McGregor Paxton, one of the influential members of the group and renowned for his remarkable interiors such as The House Maid above.


FAST FACTS: Born June 22, 1869 in Baltimore, Maryland; Death 1941 in Newton, Massachusetts.  However, his family moved soon to Newton, Massachusetts where Paxton grew up. Early art education at the Cowles School in  Boston, then studied at two major art schools in Paris, the Academie Julian and Ecole des Beaux Arts. After his return to Boston, he eventually became an instructor at the Boston School of the Museum of Fine Arts. He later was a co-founder of the artists’ Guild of Boston and achieved success both in his genre scenes and portraiture.

Vermeer, Vermeer and more Vermeer. Paxton idealized Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) and the inspiration of the Dutch master is evident in his paintings, particularly the use of light and realistic detail. Paxton’s wife Elizabeth Okie Paxton (1878-1972) often posed as  his model. She also was an artist in her own right, her work The Breakfast Tray has recently been acquired by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Sources: Boston of Museum of Fine Arts website; National Gallery of Art website; and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts website.




In the public domain, courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

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