Lot 74
  • 74


50,000 - 70,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • William McGregor Paxton
  • Ernest Fosbery Esq.
  • signed PAXTON (lower left)
  • oil on canvas
  • 40 by 30 1/8 inches
  • (101.6 by 76.5 cm)
  • Painted circa 1904.


The artist
Arthur Spear, Jr., Briarcliff, New Hampshire
[With] Cooley Gallery, Simsbury, Connecticut, 1986
Richard York Gallery, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above


Boston, Massachusetts, Saint Botolph Club, Paintings by Mr. William M. Paxton, October-November 1904, no. 1, n.p.
Hartford, Connecticut, The Old State House, Paintings from the Cooley Gallery, September-November 1986, p.4, illustrated; also cover illustration (as Portrait of Elmer Forsberg)


Archives of American Art, New York, William M. Paxton Papers, roll 3714, frames 1111, 1260
Richard York Gallery, An American Gallery, vol. III, New York, 1987, no 14, illustrated n.p.

Catalogue Note

A stunning example of William McGregor Paxton's ability to capture both his sitter’s physical likeness and deeper inner character, this sympathetic portrayal of fellow male artist Ernest Fosbery is an exceedingly rare example of Paxton’s coveted portraiture. Trained under Dennis Miller Bunker at the Cowles School of Art in Boston and Jean-Léon Gérôme in Paris, Paxton is often regarded as a painter of interiors inhabited almost exclusively by women. Indeed, the artist’s representations of women far outnumber his infrequent and noticeably uncommon images of men. As a depiction of both a male sitter and fellow artist, this portrait is among the most singular works in the artist’s oeuvre.

Along with Frank Benson and Edmund Tarbell, Paxton was a leading member of the early twentieth-century Boston School of artists, who sought to integrate the aesthetics of Impressionism with conservative academic figure painting. This intimate depiction of a solitary figure, defined by cast shadow and color tonalities, possesses a quiet visual harmony reminiscent of seventeenth-century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, whose work Paxton closely studied. The sitter, Ernest Fosbery, was a well-known Canadian portrait painter and a former president of the Royal Canadian Academy. Born in 1874 in Ottawa, Fosbery later studied in Paris under the French artist Fernand Cormon. He served with the Canadian Grenadier Guards during the First World War and was wounded in action during the Second Battle of the Somme. He became a member of the Société Union Internationale des Beaux-Arts et des Lettres, Paris in 1911, was elected president of the Royal Canadian Academy in 1943, chairman of the Arts Reconstruction Committee in 1944, and honorary president of the Canadian Arts Council in 1945. A well-respected teacher, Fosbery was on the staff of the Arts Students League in Buffalo, New York and the Art Association of Ottawa. Examples of his portraiture are in the collection of the Supreme Court of Canada, the Canadian Senate, and the Canadian War Memorial. Both Paxton and Fosbery were teachers of Julius John Lankes, the noted illustrator celebrated for his long-lasting artistic collaboration with the beloved American poet Robert Frost.