Thursday, January 21, 2010

William McGregor Paxton

William McGregor Paxton (June 22, 1869 – 1941) has been one of my favorite painters for the past 25 years when I was first introduced to his work by my teacher. The poetic feeling of his work is superb. The understated quality of his light combined with great draftsmanship always inspires me.





William McGregor Paxton (June 22, 1869 – 1941) was an American Impressionist painter.
Born in Baltimore, the Paxton family came to Newton Corner in the mid-1870s, where William's father James established himself as a caterer. At 18, William won a scholarship to attend the Cowles Art School, where he began his art studies with Dennis Miller Bunker. Later he studied with Jean-Léon Gérôme in Paris and, on his return to Boston, with Joseph DeCamp at Cowles. There he met his future wife Elizabeth Okie, who also was studying with DeCamp. After their marriage, William and Elizabeth lived with his parents at 43 Elmwood Street, and later bought a house at 19 Montvale Road in Newton Centre.
Paxton, who is best known as a portrait painter, taught at the Museum School from 1906 to 1913. Along with other well known artists of the era, including Edmund Charles Tarbell and Frank Benson, he is identified with the Boston School. He was well known for his extraordinary attention to the effects of light and detail in flesh and fabric. Paxton's compositions were most often idealized young women in beautiful interiors. Paxton gained fame for his portraiture and painted both Grover Cleveland and Calvin Coolidge. He taught at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School from 1906 to 1913. Paxton was made a full member of the Nation Academy of Design in 1928.
Like many of his Boston colleagues, Paxton found inspiration in the work of the seventeenth-century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. Paxton was fascinated not only with Vermeer's imagery, but also with the system of optics he employed. He studied Vermeer's works closely, and discovered that only one area in his compositions was entirely in focus, while the rest were somewhat blurred. Paxton ascribed this peculiarity to "binocular vision," crediting Vermeer with recording the slightly different point of view of each individual eye that combine in human sight. He began to employ this system in his own work, including The New Necklace, where only the gold beads are sharply defined while the rest of the objects in the composition have softer, blurrier edges. Paxton crafted his elaborate compositions with models in his studio, and the props he used, appear in several different paintings.
Paxton was working on his last painting, a view of his living room at 19 Montvale Road, with his wife posing for him, when he was stricken with a heart attack and died at the age of 72.




2 comments:

  1. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

    Claudia

    http://paintingdrawing.net

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  2. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

    Alisha

    http://sketchingdrawing.com

    ReplyDelete