Lady Sewing exemplifies Paxton’s faithfulness to the favored subject of the Boston School artists, that of a young woman posed in a room, often engaged in a domestic activity such as dressing, reading, having tea, or tending to needlework. An admirer of Johannes Vermeer's Dutch interiors and compositional arrangements, Paxton carefully positions the model and furniture elements around her, using blue and white chalk to capture sunlight from a nearby window as it falls on the sitter's head, hands, and clothing, and reflects off a piece of glass set on a table.
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Paxton was fully immersed in the Boston art scene, joining the Copley Society, the Boston Art Club, the St. Botolph Club, and the Guild of Boston Artists, and also showed with the National Academy of Design and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. A master of lace, pearls, satiny skin, and rich fabrics, Paxton became a favorite of any audience and frequently received the “Popular Prize” by vote in exhibitions across the country, including first place at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC, on four occasions, as well as three first place awards at the Pennsylvania Academy, and runner up each year between 1915 and 1925.
His skill was applauded in 1928 when the National Academy appointed him a full member. After his death in 1941, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, held a memorial exhibition, followed thirty-seven years later by the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s retrospective which brought his work to new light. Today Paxton’s work can be found in numerous museum collections including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Estate of the artist to Vose Galleries, Boston, inventory no. PD-17, circa 1976
To private collection, Boston, Massachusetts, by 1977
With Vose Galleries, Boston, inventory no. T-5742, October 1977
To private collection, Washington, DC, October 1977 to October 2002
With Vose Galleries, Boston, inventory no. 33813, October 2002
To private collection, Atlanta, Georgia, April 2004 to present
(briefly re-consigned with Vose Galleries in 2010, as VG no. 35565, and in 2015, as VG no. 36512, the latter as part of gallery’s Boston School exhibition)
Previous Vose Galleries labels, no. PD-17, no. 33813, no. 35565, and no. 36512
The Boston School Tradition: Truth, Beauty and Timeless Craft, Vose Galleries, Boston, June 6 – July 18, 2015
by William M. Paxton (1869-1941)
11 1/2 x 15 1/2 inches