Lot 12
  • 12

William McGregor Paxton

Estimate
70,000 - 90,000 USD
Sold
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Description

  • William McGregor Paxton
  • Odalisque with the Slave (Copy after Ingres)
  • signed COPIED BY PAXTON, dated 1932, and inscribed J. INGRES / ROM. 1839 (lower left)
  • oil on panel
  • 29 1/8 by 40 in.
  • 74.1 by 101.6 cm

Provenance

Estate of the Artist
Vose Galleries, Boston, Massachusetts
Private Collection (and sold: Grogan & Company, Boston, December 10, 1994, lot 252, illustrated)
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

Exhibited

Indianapolis Museum of Art; El Paso Museum of Art; Omaha, Nebraska, Joslyn Art Museum; Springfield, Massachusetts, Museum of Fine Arts, William McGregor Paxton, 1869-1941, Member of the National Academy, August 1978-May 1979, no. 64, pp. 145-46, illustrated

Catalogue Note

William McGregor Paxton was an esteemed member of the Boston School, a group of American Impressionists including Edmund C. Tarbell and Frank W. Benson who achieved commercial and critical success through their portrayals of elegant women in well-appointed interiors.  After studying under Dennis Miller Bunker at the Cowles Art School in Boston in the 1880s, Paxton departed for Paris in 1899, where he enrolled at the École des Beaux-Arts and trained under Jean-Léon Gérôme.  Paxton was immediately drawn to Gérôme’s precise draughtsmanship and predilection for smooth paint surfaces and he readily assimilated these practices into his own technique.  By 1893, Paxton had returned to his native Newton, Massachusetts and embarked on his career as a painter.  He continued to greatly admire the European masters, however, and along with fellow artist Philip Leslie Hale, published the first American monograph on the seventeenth century Dutch painter Jan Vermeer in 1904.  His success as a painter eventually garnered him the support of his senior colleagues, including Benson and Tarbell, and he joined them in the newly opened Fenway Studio Building in 1906, as well as on the faculty of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 

 

Ingres’ Odalisque with the Slave was acquired by Philadelphian Carroll S. Tyson sometime shortly after June 1931.  Tyson was an amateur artist and went on to amass one of the most important collections of nineteenth century French painting, now part of the permanent collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  Paxton and Tyson were close friends and Paxton painted his version of Ingres’ masterpiece while studying the picture in Tyson’s home.  In the present work, Paxton emulates Ingres’ curvilinear rendering of the recumbent odalisque, lying barely clothed in her daybed.  Her dutiful servant entertains her while an eunuch stands guard nearby.  Paxton is careful to recreate the smooth, hard surface and strong compositional order of the original.  He faithfully transcribes the geometrically-patterned textiles and sumptuous fabrics, even adopting Ingres’ vivid palette comprised of primary hues.  Odalisque with the Slave (Copy after Ingres) is a skillfully rendered homage to the great French master and is testament to the lasting impact of European art on American artists. 

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