Lot 54
  • 54

William McGregor Paxton 1869 - 1941

500,000 - 700,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • William McGregor Paxton
  • 1875 (The Green Dress)
  • signed Paxton (lower right)
  • oil on canvas
  • 36 by 28 inches
  • (91.4 by 71.1 cm)
  • Painted in 1914.


Mr. and Mrs. Charles T. Jeffery, Chicago, Illinois, 1916 (acquired from the artist)
Mrs. Thomas A. McGovern (their daughter)
Jordan-Volpe Gallery, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 1997


Newport, Rhode Island, Art Association of Newport, 3rd Annual Exhibition, 1914 
Boston, Massachusetts, The Guild of Boston Artists, 1914
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 110th Annual, 1915, no. 380, illustrated
Brooklyn, New York, Brooklyn Institute, Brooklyn Museum Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting, 1915
Buffalo, New York, Albright Art Gallery, 10th Annual, 1915, no. 120
Boston, Massachusetts, The Guild of Boston Artists, Exhibition of Paintings by William M. Paxton, 1916, no. 9
Boston, Massachusetts, Museum of Fine Arts, The Guild of Boston Artists Exhibition, 1916
Chicago, Illinois, Art Institute of Chicago, 29th Annual, 1916
Indianapolis, Indiana, Indianapolis Museum of Art; El Paso, Texas, El Paso Museum of Art; Omaha, Nebraska, Joslyn Art Museum; Springfield, Massachusetts, Museum of Fine Arts, William McGregor Paxton, 1869-1941, August 1978-May 1979, no. 35, pp. 59, 133, illustrated p. 82
Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art; San Francisco, California, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Detroit, Michigan, Detroit Institute of Arts, American Paintings from the Manoogian Collection, June 1989-May 1990, no. 63, p. 170, illustrated p. 171
Memphis, Tennessee, The Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Celebrate America: 19th Century Paintings from the Manoogian Collection, February-April 1999, no. 34, p. 86, illustrated p. 87


Boston Journal, December 15, 1914
Philadelphia Public Ledger, February 2, 1915, illustrated
American Art News, February 13, 1915, vol. 13, no. 9, p. 2
Arts and Decoration, March 1915, vol. 5, no. 5, p. 191, illustrated p. 192
American Art News, April 10, 1915, vol. 13, no. 27, p. 2
Art and Progress, April 1916, vol. 6, no. 6, illustrated as a frontispiece
American Art Annual, 1915, vol. 12, p. 201, illustrated
Boston Transcript, January 25, 1915
Marian P. Waitt, Boston Journal, January 26, 1916
Boston Herald, January 30, 1916
Fine Arts Journal, December 12, 1916, vol. 34, p. 623

Catalogue Note

Educated at the Cowles School of Art in Boston, where he studied with Dennis Miller Bunker, and in Jean-Léon Gérôme’s studio at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, William McGregor Paxton was known as a painter of exquisite interiors inhabited almost exclusively by women. He, along with Frank Benson and Edmund Tarbell, were the leading members of the Boston School. This group of artists was active in the early 20th century and combined the aesthetics of Impressionism with a more conservative approach to figure painting to create their own distinct regional style. Paxton’s strongest works present idealized views of women in a domestic setting, often capturing moments of introspection and solitude. These pictures have been compared to those of the 17th century painter Jan Vermeer, who was readily admired by the Boston School painters. Paxton was particularly influenced by the Dutch master and frequently emulated several of his techniques, including his emphasis on light and treatment of perspective.    

Executed in 1914, the same year Paxton co-founded the Guild of Boston Artists, 1875 (The Green Dress) exemplifies the timeless beauty the painters of the Boston School strove to create. Paxton organizes each element of the composition with extreme precision and showcases his talent through his ability to capture both light and texture. Ellen Wardwell Lee writes of this work, “Regardless of how intently Paxton’s model may study the porcelain figurine, the focal point of 1875 can be nothing other than her green silk costume. The dress was specifically made at the artist’s request and was also worn by Elizabeth Paxton in 1913 when she posed for a picture known as The Green Princess. An ideal vehicle for Paxton’s love of texture and penchant for pungent color, the gown absorbs all the composition’s light and casts its reflections on the floor below” (William McGregor Paxton 1869-1941, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1979, p. 133). 1875 was awarded the Lippincott Prize for best figure painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art’s 110th annual exhibition in 1915.